Truffaut is one of my favourite directors and Jules et Jim one of my favourite films. As Jeanne Moreau recalls in an interview re her relationship with Truffaut at the time (they were briefly in love), this was a movie no one wanted to finance, that she had to help finance herself with money she had just scored from her latest film success (even her car was used to carry sets and other filming equipment) and which depended to a large extent on conditions on the ground and inspiration on the part of all, especially Truffaut, at any given time. Thus, creation happened as inspiration came to Truffaut, Moreau and the crew and as Moreau remarks, the whole movie feels and flows like a song (she does sing the theme song, rather well at that too!). Jules and Jim are star crossed friends. They have similar tastes and are ready to do anything for each other but being German and French they end up on different trenches in the war. They have imagined and then seen the bust of the ideal feminine beauty and and proceed to look for her in every nook and cranny, ultimately finding her in the shape of Moreau at a function. Moreau is luminous in her role as Catherine that would have earned her permanent recognition if she had done nothing else. She is not just beautiful or alluring - she is Woman itself in all its complexities, falling in and out of love, holding on or letting go as is her wanton. There is a moment in the film when she does not get the attention of the two men because they are playing a game and immediately she demands attention and does not stop until she gets it. Truffaut said on more than one occasion that his relationship with his mother (a rather distant one, reportedly) had had an impact on his relationship with other women but in Jules et Jim he is able to portray the female of the species with a depth and an understanding such as I had never witnessed before or have since. Truffaut's direction is peerless in its acuity and sensitivity, and it is greatly aided by some of the loveliest photography ever. In addition, he extracts superlative performances from all three leads. Oskar Werner's performance is deft beyond words. Henri Serre reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis with a steely performance to match. As art lovers, they fall in love with a bust of a woman and look for her until they find Catherine. Is this Catherine an echo of Cathy in Wuthering Heights? Serre might be the Heathcliff while Werner sounds more like an undecided Hamlet knowing he cannot hang on to his Ophelia. The passions at work in the film more than match that of the Bronte novel's characters and, of course, that of the lukewarm Dane. As lovers of the flesh, Jim has a child by Catherine and Jules her love - but it carries a price. The ending is a subtle mix of irony, sadness, insightful observation and even a touch of the clownish with an unsuitably dressed Jim walking away with the ashes of his beloved lover and friend... much as Hamlet might have walked away with a skull or two. There is a lyrical quality to this film that I believe has never been surpassed. Judging from Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" -- which borrows shamelessly from the ideas of "Jules et Jim" -- it will take real genius and a many months of sustained inspiration to surpass it. Given the current never ending supply of mass produced flicks, I doubt it will ever be matched let alone surpassed... "Jules et Jim" is a most intelligent film and a privilege to watch. If it were down to me, it would score 11 out of 10.
Jules and Jim
Jules and Jim
Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.
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May 2, 2019