Jules et Jim

Francois Truffaut, France, 1961, 120 minutes

Of all the films associated with the French Nouvelle Vague, Truffaut's Jules Et Jim is probably one of the most memorable and enduringly popular to emerge from the period. The film begins in pre-war Paris, spanning the first three decades of this century and culminating in the Depression hit thirties. The story (based on a little-known autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Poche) charts the friendship that evolves between Jules and Jim and examines the strains that are placed on this relationship once the bewitching Catherine appears on the scene.

Jeanne Moreau's performance as the impulsive and restless femme fatale provides the focus for the complex triangular relationship that unfolds; as she swings unpredictably between the affection of Jules and Jim she manages to simultaneously to evoke our sympathy (at her frustrated search for happiness and fulfilment) and indignance (at the flighty and egocentric behaviour that this search entails). Truffaut combines the part-comic, part-tragic narrative with a variety of cinematic devices (freeze-frames, jump-cuts, and contemporary footage) to produce a film which is by turns gentle and hard-hftting. The plot does tend to drag in the middle. However it is still a beautiful and touching film and a sensittive portrayal of three individuals caught up in a destructive and ultimately tragic ménage à trois.

Review by Clifford Brown
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95