2.5 stars. This is a schizo film for me, in format and in my response. Beautifully shot, not especially well acted but still compelling. Jean Seberg is a ravishing camera subject and she has something. David Niven does his charm routine and Deborah Kerr is wasted as the film's conscience. Every time it is on, I watch it but I am always unsatisfied...and fascinated.
Casual cruelties of everyday life may have been exclusive to bourgeoisie in the 50s, but with globalization and technology, ennui has proven itself the ultimate egalitarian. If emptiness and melancholia persist still among today's youth, unlike Jean Seberg's cold yet worrisome Cecile, empathy is in shorter supply. Stunningly subtle and yes demanding, TRISTESSE's many pleasures come at the price of your attention.
A superficial story, wherein you don't actually get to know any of the characters well enough to really care about any of them. Good cinematography is not anywhere near as important as a good story, and this is not a good story, nor is it well told. A melodrama hidden inside the pretensions of French symbolism yielding an emotionally hollow result.
Watched this despite the sub par reviews, hadn't read the novella (not my bag) but found it classy with a decent enough story line, old school glamour cast, costume & location. The dialogue isn't great but the script rang true for this era and I found it an enjoyable watch for the genre.