Jules et Jim
Directed by François Truffaut
Written by François Truffaut and Jean Gruault based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché
The music in this film is jarring, that’s the first thing I noticed. Then the narration started and I realised that the conceit I’d found so surprising and charming in Amelie was in fact an homage to this classic French film. Fast talking quips about how people think, feel and know each other.
A classic of French New Wave cinema, you can feel how it influenced other things just by watching and seeing what other films it reminds you of. It’s also very reminiscent of Warhol’s Flesh, just for the naturalistic way the conversations are filmed and the way it celebrates the loushe lives of the characters.
In some ways Catherine feels like the original French manic pixie dream girl, she stirs up the men, enlivens their lives and is a romantic interest for first one then the other of them. Especially in the first part of the film. There’s a fascinating bit where she dresses as a man and one of them draws a moustache on her and the narration said that the disguise made her really happy but it just made Jules and Jim confused.
That said, later on the movie demonstrates the dangers of loving a woman who is flighty and loves freedom, she had thought she could change Jules and cheer up his disposition but of course she hadn’t succeeded. Instead she had left, having given him a daughter, but found herself drawn back to him. I suspect this is less a flaw of her character than a comment on the nature of society that puts women into these boxes. Jules and Jim are both drawn to her flightiness, her spontaneity so she, being interested in them, lets that side of her flourish. Then she cannot leave those traits behind and is punished for it.
In a lot of ways the war is a side note to the story here, which is entirely about the tortured love triangle, people making emotional sacrifices out of fear of losing the one they love forever.
Does it make me love the people? Yes? although mostly it made me want Jules and Jim to make out. Or at least have Jules and Catherine add Jim into their relationship. I guess there wouldn’t be so much drama and conflict if they did that though.
I couldn’t get past how much Jim resembles Brendon Fraser.
Bechdel test: We have Sabine and Catherine, but I don’t think they speak. Therese says an awful lot but only to the men.
Catherine: We were happy for a while but happiness didn’t become a part of us, we ended up face to face not together.
State of Mind: Overall this movie didn’t really grab me. It’s too much telling and not showing, the characters are kind of annoying and the movie is on the whole kind of dull. I don’t think I’ll watch it again. Maybe 60s new wave films just aren’t my thing, and that’s just fine 🙂