The wonderfully fresh and vivacious Jean Seberg here shines in her second film. The previous year she had played Joan of Arc (chosen from 18,000 young girls who auditioned for the role), and here Otto Preminger directs his protégé again to superb effect. The film opens with very dramatic music by Georges Auric. This film is based upon the best-selling first novel by the young Francoise Sagan, which created a scandal then but now is not scandalous at all. What passed for 'decadence' at the time was a life of aimless idling by the rich on the Riviera, some gambling, some boating, some swimming, some affairs, and a great deal of insipid self-indulgence. This we see epitomised in Seberg's father, played to perfection by David Niven, a shallow idler and womanizer who straightens his bow tie self-consciously between seductions in the bushes. He and Jean have a 'father-and-daughter-thing' because her mother died long ago, and they really don't want anybody else in their lives apart from casual partners with whom they can romp, only to throw them away when used, joking about them to each other as they get ready to have an evening out. As the film opens, Niven's girlfriend of the moment is Elsa, a charmingly empty-headed creature played delightfully by Mylene Demongeot, who shows such talent as a restrained comedienne. Juliette Greco makes a full-throated appearance in a club, singing the film's theme song all the way through as the dancing and whirling Jean stares at her glassy-eyed over men's shoulders, lost in haunted visions of regret. In 1958, the teenage girls of Britain all swooned over and identified with Jean Seberg, who seems to have originated the shorn boyish haircut which Mia Farrow later copied. Niven as the amiable cad was pretty much what one would expect. But into this mix comes Miss Straight, in the form of Deborah Kerr, who says to Niven when he gets flirty: 'I don't want to be casual.' That's for sure. When Niven finally decides he wants to marry her, she becomes a Little Hitler in no time, bossing Jean around, stopping everyone having 'fun', and generally making herself odious with her control-freakery. This leads to a campaign to drive her out by Jean and Elsa, who has been unceremoniously dumped. Meanwhile, Kerr has fallen hard, and in a revealing shot in the harsh sun we even discover that her true complexion was rather gingery and freckly, something concealed in her other films. Tragedy is not long in coming, hence the 'tristesse'. This is a social document of the 1950s which people interested in knowing what things were once like should watch. The film is directed by a master, Preminger, and Jean Seberg 'makes it' entirely. She is so refreshing, natural, young, real. Poor Jean Seberg. By the age of 40 she was dead. But she left much to remember her by: no one who has seen 'Breathless' (1960) can ever forget her. This film too keeps her wonderful memory alive. Her best acting performance was probably in 'Lilith', but she does well enough here, wholly dominating the screen and acting circles round the old pros. Oh yes, and then there's the inside joke about Eveline Eyfel playing three identical sisters who act as the maid, which is an amusing touch. The Mediterranean sparkles in the sunshine, the pine trees along the beach are exuding their aroma, swim suits dry in minutes: come on in, the water's fine!