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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bonjour Tristesse

&<span class=I really enjoy films you can sink your teeth in, films where there is depth to each scene, where a certain visual is symbolic; Bonjour Tristesse is one of those films. Based on a novel by the same name it is expertly cast starring Jean Seberg, David Niven, and Deborah Kerr. While the latter two do have major parts to play in the film, it really is a vehicle for Jean Seberg's talent as the film is told entirely through her perspective as she navigates the transition from youth to adult, but it's far from a traditional coming of age tale.
One of the aspects I really enjoy about this film is the sensitive direction. It transitions between black and white and color without being jarring and illustrates Cecile's (Jean Seberg) changes with a delicate touch. Cecile is haunted by the choices of the past and forced to look at herself critically; in this film this is shown quite literally as she is often depicted staring into a mirror, but not with vanity. In one scene she petulantly makes faces at herself in a flower-rimmed mirror, later she gazes with melancholy into a scratched and marked mirror in the back of a riotous club. Her connection and disconnection from who she was and who she is, is also illustrated in her clothes. The striking black dress she wears for a night on the town, is nearly identical to a delicate floral one she receives as a gift from Anne (Deborah Kerr). Anne's presence dominates the film, although her character receives very little screen time. Instead her presence is felt through the impact she makes on the other characters long after she has left.
While Cecile's circumstances are unique, the feelings she expresses are common. In her we see the fear of many as they worry that becoming adults will be a loss of what they know. When she rebels against changes and claims to be an adult already, she rebels as a child. But the decisions one makes as a child or an adult have long-reaching consequences...
I don't want to give away any major plot details, but suffice to say it is an absorbing film and supremely well-shot.
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&<span class=Bonjour Tristesse, screencaps by me
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