© Schwarz-Weiss/Filmagentinnen

Bonjour Sagan (Sagan)
France 2008

Opening 1 Jan 2009

Directed by: Diane Kurys
Writing credits: Diane Kurys, Claire Lemaréchal
Principal actors: Sylvie Testud, Pierre Palmade, Jeanne Balibar, Arielle Dombasle, Lionel Abelanski

The film begins with 19-year-old Françoise Sagan (amazing performance by Sylvie Testud), who wins the 1954 Prix des Critiques for her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, also an immediate smash hit across the Atlantic. Following her bohemian but troubled life until her death 50 years later, Sagan is shown taking responsibility for her entourage with her prolific output despite her extreme self-destructive behavior.

Speaking at the FilmFest Hamburg director Diane Kurys stressed that her film is not a documentary but fiction. “This is my way of meeting her,” was her comment after indicating a friend got her interested in the project four years ago at the time of Sagan’s death – who also insisted, “You MUST cast Sylvie Testud as Sagan,” a tip well-taken as Testud intensely depicts her complex loneliness.

Tidbits: Sagan has a sister, now 85 years old, whose voice sounds like her famous sibling. And contrary to what is in the film, on her deathbed Sagan never said she did not want to see her son. Be prepared for a French film with German subtitles or perhaps dubbing in German. (Nancy Tilitz)

Second Opinion

Sagan may not have been the greatest novelist of her time, but her first books, Bonjour Tristesse and Aimez-vous Brahms, had an immense impact on the youth in Germany, and in the rest of Europe, during the late ‘50s and ‘60s. It was the time when revolutionary behaviour and anything French started to be chic, and a number of her books were made into successful films. With Diane Kurys’ recent film, portraying the 19-year old Sagan, I would have liked more emphasis on the historical background for future generations to understand why her life seemed so “scandalous” to the world around her. (Birgit Schrumpf)

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