Jules and Jim (1962) Poster


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art isn't about "identification"
willtato4 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Why do so many people need to "get into the characters" "care about the characters" "identify with the characters", to enjoy or appreciate a great film? I think it's a type of selfishness, as shallow as the urge to reject an outcome one doesn't like. Examples: "I know it's good; but the ending was too down" (Lolita), or a woman I once heard criticize Unbearable Lightness of Being because one of the main characters is a womanizer who doesn't repent or have justice rendered to him. Ironically, in Jules and Jim, we see a woman who is a "manizer" whom some viewers are appalled or put off by).

Jules and Jim features three characters whose unrealism is beyond question - Truffaut himself might comment on how Catherine fascinated the other two, but I doubt very much he would claim any of the three to be "realistic". I think the whole thing is a fable, and therefore the three are more like archetypes. The beauty isn't really the story, but HOW the story unfolds, and, most importantly how it is told VISUALLY: the breeziness interrupted by dramatic outbursts (flames, jumping into the river, death by drowning), the exploration of love as a fleeing of tediousness and predictability, the hinting (yes there is a type of love between Jules and Jim, though not a homo erotic one) that friendship is always deeper than romantic love, the beautiful flowing and editing of sequences, for example: where all three go bicycling in the country.

The duty of film is to tell a story in moving images, to take advantage of the things that specifically make cinema different from drama or literature - moving the spectator about in space and time, which cannot be done in any other art form in quite the same way. But nothing about this movie is conventional, and people looking for "resolution", or a someone getting their comeuppances, or even a character learning more about himself must look elsewhere for gratification.
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Jules et Jim embodies the beauty of French cinema
nmoc14 October 2000
The French have a remarkable tendency of creating free-flowing, poetic movies that transport this particular art form into subtle, poignant flights of fancy and nowhere is this more evident than in Jules et Jim, which embodies the beauty of French cinema.

I believe that Truffaut is the most poetic filmmaker in cinematic history. Jules et Jim is his finest moment and, in the ever fluctuating relationships between the Oskar Werner, Henri Serre and Jeanne Moreau characters, we are allowed to be taken along on a refreshing, beatific ride through the passionate simplicity of love and friendship.

The leisurely philosophical musings of the two men in Jules et Jim are counterbalanced by Moreau's bright, airy amorality. She brings about a radicalism and sense of unpredictability in the movie that is nonetheless charming and utterly innocent and benign. Moreau's instinctive will makes her out to be a selfish attention-seeker but without that this movie would not be so surprising and liberating. Truffaut's does not stick to a rigid narrative form, like many '50s and '60s French New Wave directors, and he allows the stream of consciousness dialogue and the ever-changing fortunes of Moreau's erratic relationships with the men to dictate the structure. Jules et Jim has a certain clarity of vision.

French love stories are often based upon dialogue that is rife with throwaway witticisms, perceptive trivial observations, and explosive utterances of love or despair, and Jules et Jim is no different. It can drift along tranquilly until a sudden unexpected change of mood occurs and everything is turned on its head. Moreau's leaping into the river after a civilised night out at the theatre is a delightfully liberating moment, utterly pointless yet still gleefully uninhibited. My finest memory is the heavenly ditty by Moreau which sums up both her and the movie's personality and atmosphere. So simple, so sublime, and always tugging away in the most sumptuous manner at the heartstrings. I don't think I have ever got that tune out of my head.

If you want to experience the sheer majesty of cinema, Jules et Jim just has to be seen. Not only is it bright and breezy but it has tragic moments of pathos as well. There is a surprise at every turn, almost always caused by the Moreau character, and such is the freedom of her spirit and the freedom of the movie's spirit, you can forgive her every action and fickle about-turns. There is no sense of permanence with her. Jules et Jim only confirms my belief that the French make cinema's greatest romances. Utterly natural, hardly ever contrived, and so cool and graceful.
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No -- still not getting it.
Bobs-95 August 2002
Whenever a commentator declares outright that a film is a complete waste of time and that nobody, BUT NOBODY, should ever watch it, I tend to peg that commentator as an opinionated ass. So I would never say that about a well-respected film like "Jules and Jim." But quite honestly, I can't warm up to it. I've watched it on more than one occasion over the years, and it never fails to put me to sleep at both ends of my anatomy. I've just viewed a DVD edition in which a film scholar clearly explains his views on the fascination of "Jules and Jim." But I still couldn't see why the relationship of these three tedious characters, discussed and analyzed in all its very tedious minutiae by those same characters and an off-screen narrator (also tedious), should interest me. It's certainly beloved by academic types (maybe for those very same characteristics?), and film critics eat it up like it has gravy on it. Like another commentator, I'm a bit puzzled by all the comments about its lyrical, lighthearted and idyllic qualities. I'm left with the impression of a rather dry, academic dissertation on the complexities of male-female relationships ca. 1961 (the 1910 setting seems to me immaterial to the script).

I can't help feeling that I'm missing something, and I'm not averse to French films, but they're usually older, pre-new-wave films, for example "Forbidden Games," "French Can-Can," or Pagnol's "Fanny" trilogy. I take it that the sentimentality of such films is one of the things new wave directors reacted against. If so, I can't jump on their bandwagon, try as I might. I've enjoyed some of Truffaut's work, but not this, I'm afraid.

To those who love and appreciate "Jules and Jim" -- have pleasure of it. I envy you for that, and maybe I'll try it again in a few years.
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A breathless film about time.
the red duchess12 July 2001
Time and revisionist critics have tried to tarnish the gleam of Truffaut's final masterpiece - citing its apparent misogyny and apoliticism; but for some of us, 'Jules et Jim' is the unforgettable film that opened the gates to both European film, and the great masters of American cinema like Hitchcock, Hawks and Ray.

'Jules et Jim' is, along with 'Citizen Kane', THE vindication of the pleasures of cinematic form: the first half especially, in its rush of narrative registers and technical exuberance, is unparalleled in modern film. This isn't mere trickery - the use of paintings, books, plays, dreams, conversations, documentary footage, etc., as well as the different ways of telling a story through film, all point to the movie's theme - how do you represent people and the world in art without destroying them? Or is art the only to save people and life from extinction?

The foregrounding of theatricality, acting, disguises, pseudonyms, games, works-within-the-work, all point to the high modernism in which the film is set, when the old certainties about identity and place were being destroyed by the Great War. In fact the film could be considered Cubist in the way it uses film form to splice up and rearrange images, space, characters, viewpoints.

Truffaut's film is a beautiful elegy about time: the historical time heading towards destruction in the shape of the Nazis, and the circular time of love, obsession and art. These times struggle in the film's structure, history zipping past years in the framing, Parisian sections, and days stretching out interminably in the central rural rondelay.

Far from being misogynistic, the film places Catherine's speech about 'grains of sand' at its philosophical heart. AND she's played by Jeanne Moreau, the most honest and human of all great actresses.
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Flashy New Wave romance...somewhat overrated
moonspinner5526 July 2010
Free-spirited Parisian girl in pre-WWI France cannot decide which of her male lovers, two eager students from France and Germany, she wants more; once the war is over, the two men decide to share her. Director François Truffaut's cinematically revolutionary paean to indecisive love was adapted from Henri-Pierre Roché's novel (by Truffaut and Jean Gruault) with great care and intimacy, with exciting cinematography from Raoul Coutard which juices the proceedings with kinetic life. Still, the second-half of the film wears out its welcome, as the plot feels mostly played out, and the players are not quite as charismatic as Truffaut thinks they are. Reworked in the U.S. in 1980 as "Willie & Phil". ** from ****
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Another Drama Queen Bites the Dust...
appealing_talent4 September 2010
Despite the radiant beauty of its hopelessly misguided leading lady and solid performances by the entire cast I'm truly stumped as to why this film gained such popularity and a cult following. The story was, in my opinion, boring and overly long. The characters, other than the tortured husband, were a bunch of worthless nitwits, who lacked any dimension or depth of feeling. Why is it that instead of finding the ending tragic I simply felt that a couple of people, who caused a great deal of pain to others, wasted their lives and my time were put out of everyone's misery? What a dismal disappointment this film, which I had looked forward to seeing, turned out to be...
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Whirlpool Of Days
Cheetah-611 January 2002
Those with heavy sensibilities along the lines of conventional "morality" seem to have a hard time allowing themselves to enjoy this film for what it is: A beautiful visual poem about the passing of time and the progression and growth of an unusual friendship. This friendship may be unusual but feels completely natural and true. Jules and Jim if anything, exhibit great maturity in their relationship with each other and Catherine. It's refreshing to see a film dealing with a deep love, friendship and emotional bond between two males and a mutual love for a woman, without the usual competitiveness and controlling possessiveness that is the norm. Jules and Jim come off more as an enlightened pair. It seems understood among them there is no real belonging of one human being to another. Catherine's whims of the heart are discussed between them at every stage throughout the film and they are willing to accept them and love her for who she is as well as each other.

I do feel that this film lost it's pacing toward the end and seemed to speed up to conclusion. That being it's only flaw. Visually it is stunning. Francois Truffaut was a poet with the camera and his subtle nuances are captivating. The scenes of Jules, Jim and Catherine enjoying days together seem so natural and evoke the feel of wonderful days spent together among best friends that transported me back to days gone by.

"we met with a kiss/ a hit, then a miss/ and we parted/ we went our own ways/ in life's whirlpool of days/ around and around we go/ together bound/ together bound."
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You end up loving it!
juanveliz715 February 2005
This is the first movie by Truffault I've ever seen, and I have to say I'm now very intrigued in his other work...

"Jules et Jim" is the story of two friends who meet a very beautiful and strange woman who turns up to be a bit unstable...

It starts with how they all meet each other and end up together... I thought the beginning was pretty fast as many things happened and you just wonder if the whole movie will be like that. Also I thought I didn't care much for any character, but of course it was too quick to judge. There is also a narrator (throughout the movie) and at first you ask yourself if its really necessary...

Still, when I decided to go grab a snack, I realized I was so hooked by the story that I couldn't. The characters behaved like no other I've seen and you find yourself wanting two different things: for it to end and for it never to end.

The movie has it's many twists for those who like, even a laugh here and there, but if you see it as a whole is a very deep description of the relationship between the three main characters.

The end is somehow beautiful, maybe because is "fair", maybe because is "real", maybe because is "surreal", you'll just have to watch and find out...

Is one of those movies when after watching it you understand both sides: those who say it's overrated and those who claim it's a masterpiece... to me it was a one in a lifetime film experience
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Forces of Nature
rivera66_9923 July 2003
There is a book by Goethe mentioned in this movie, it's "Wahlverwandschaften", and its appearance is quite meaningful. Because the movie takes a look on human loves and lives that is quite similar to older Goethe's fatalistic world-view in his novel, very far from hope and idealisms. Strength (Moreau's character) and Weakness (Jim) are equal forces of nature, and both conduct us to death. The stoic attitude (Jules) is resignation and, seen this way, it is "weakness" too, but, on the other hand, it seems to be the STRONGEST way, because it means survival. JULES ET JIM, both in its content and in its aesthetics, has an air of antique tragedies, but - and this is more like the German novel - without complain, without crying. That's why it leaves you so "unsatisfied", and that's why it's still disturbing, even today.
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Truffaut's "Hymn to Life"
marissas7525 May 2006
Although "Jules and Jim" was made over 40 years ago and takes place 40 to 50 years before that, the amazing thing is that it barely seems to have dated. Because it focuses on the universal human relationships between its characters, rather than the specific time in which they live, it's the rare film set in the past that doesn't feel like a "period film." And, especially in the first half of the movie, Truffaut's New Wave techniques lend a remarkable energy and freshness.

The movie explores friendship and love among three semi-bohemian types: Parisian Jim (Henri Serre), Austrian Jules (Oskar Werner), and Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), the beautiful, free-spirited woman whom they both love. She's the most vibrant character in the movie, and impossible to pin down. It's never clear who she loves—she contradicts herself repeatedly, and perhaps loves no one but herself—or whether she's diabolical or simply misunderstood. Moreau nearly steals the movie, if not for the fact that the title reminds us to focus on the relationship between the two men, and that Serre and Werner give good performances too. Even if Jim and Jules aren't as mysterious as Catherine, they're complex and interesting characters in their own right.

The story plays out rather episodically, which means "Jules and Jim" is full of wonderful little moments, often involving the crazy things Catherine does. Some of my favorites include her dressing up as a man and racing Jules and Jim across a bridge; her jumping into the Seine in frustration; and her singing the movie's charming theme song, "The Whirlpool of Life." The episodes are linked together by surprisingly unobtrusive off-screen narration, which keeps the film moving along rather than slowing it down.

"Jules and Jim" does get a little tiresome toward the end, with Catherine continually vacillating between the men in her life, Jim vacillating between Catherine and his old girlfriend Gilberte, and Jules remaining loyally devoted to Catherine despite how foolish this may seem. However, the movie is redeemed by its tragic final scenes, which poignantly contrast with the carefree gaiety of the beginning. Jules, Jim, and Catherine are caught in a destructive spiral, tossed and defeated by the whirlpool of life. Still, the tone of the movie is gentle and human, not pessimistic. Truffaut considered "Jules and Jim" a "hymn to life," and it is most memorable as a vivid celebration of friendship and youthful possibility, even as it acknowledges how those things can sour.
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Inscrutability becomes randomness
maisannes7 October 2002
3 out of 10

First, let's self-credential. I think Day For Night is brilliant, I appreciate some Godard, and wasn't scared away by Last Year in Marienbad, so my dissatisfaction cannot be explained away by mere francophobia, or ugly Americacentrism.

This movie is simply too inscrutable. When character motivations and sensibilities are so alien, their actions are essentially random to the viewer. Random action makes for a plotless movie. Then again, I suspect this movie makes no sense in any language.

As when reading philosophy, when confronted so, the intellectual has two choices. One is to look at the confusing text peppered with bon mots and say "This is brilliant/deep/ineffable." In other words: "I "know" this is supposed to be important, so there must be something there I'm missing. There's something wrong with me." The other path: "This is balderdash cloaked in mystery. There's something wrong with it."

I choose the latter.
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One of the most inspired films ever
adrian2903579 April 2009
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.
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Since everyone else is too scared to write what they really think - for fear of appearing "uncultured" - I will.
fedor811 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A better title would have been "The Two Suckers".

The movie starts off with a one-minute summary/prologue of some events that transpired between and around J&J. It went by so quickly that I could barely catch anything, except that Jules failed humping a number of women whereas Jim had them all, the French narrator pretty much being hell-bent on setting a new world-record in speed-jabbering. "Well, that must have been the movie then!" I thought, for there was enough plot in that speedy recount of events for an entire prequel to J&J. I guess that prequel would have been called "Jim & Jules: Their Happy Life Before Katherine".

We find out that J&J are poets, writers, artists... Oh, no! Not another pretentious Euro-trash saga about the sensitive souls that inhabit Paris while discussing the meaning of life! But no fear. While the movie IS pretentious, though, it's not about the meaning of life, but about the meaning and intentions of a particularly empty-headed French bimbo by the name of Katherine. After all, this is a French movie.

Before meeting this "apparition", as Jim so pretentiously calls her, J&J see a woman's "mysteriously smiling" face carved out of a rock. J&J "both dressed the same way" to see this work of art, we are told by the narrator, by not WHY they dressed the same way. And what happens if I dare ask why? I will be called an uncouth philistine who doesn't appreciate the "depth" that this movie has to offer. Nevertheless, I still ask why. If anyone out there can tell me, feel free to e-mail me. I look forward to reading your silly hallucinatory psycho-babble.

Anyway, predictably they meet a woman who fits the rock's smile, and it's of course Jeanna Moreau, whose beauty is vastly overrated. Katherine wants to set a bunch of papers (letters?) on fire which she refers to as "lies" (how poetic!), and in the process she nearly burns herself and her house down. Conclusion? Katherine is a moron. J&J have just fallen in love with a dumb floozy. That's what happens when penises do the thinking, nothing new there.

After watching a play, J&J disagree with Katherine on whether it was good or not. Realizing that J&J are far superior to her intellectually - i.e. she ran out of arguments - she spontaneously decides to jump into the river. The narrator calls it her "victory". So, all you women out there, if you ever find yourself out-argued: jump into the nearest batch of water. That'll show 'em!

WW I breaks out. Symbolically, J&J get split up to fight on opposing sides. The thing that made me smile was that both of them expressed fear of killing the other in battle. Are artists that dumb? What are the odds that they kill each other, in a war in which millions upon millions of soldiers participate? Still, this part of the movie was not bad at all, but this was probably due to the stock-footage of trenches and battlefields. I.e. these scenes were NOT directed by Truffaut so there was nothing much to criticize.

The war was over, Jim's side won. It turns out Jules has a child with Katherine (which is probably not even his), a woman who is not only dumb but also turns out to be a slut, having cheated on her husband numerous times. Jim sees his chance!

Btw, there is a silly scene in which Katherine lists various wines, and this moment reminded me of Monty Python's "cheese sketch". Nevertheless, the movie was improving at this point somewhat.

Eventually, Jim hooks up with Katherine: they're together, they split, they hook up, they split, they hook up, they split up - and then Katherine drives them both off a bridge, leaving Jules as the sole survivor of this French game of "who's the ass?". (The moment I saw her driving the car I knew she was going to do that.)

I love the way Truffaut (through his alter Ego, Jules) makes up excuses for Katherine's behaviour. When she's unfaithful, she is "exploring the boundaries of experience" or some such "poetic" malarkey. Jules is always covering up for her selfishness like some demented moron with his semantic bulls**t, which has nothing to do with the real world. Truffaut's skewered views are on display in other parts, too: Jules says that Katherine is "neither too beautiful, intelligent, or sincere" but that's what "every man wants"! What???? Maybe French men! Similarly, the quasi mini-hippie commune that the two morons, the harlot, and the child briefly form is supposed to be exalted, oh-so progressive, advanced. But what's one to expect from a decadent left-wing European director?

I was also fascinated by Katherine's penis-hopping. At one point she had dinner with three of the men she was involved with. There are pro prostitutes that can't achieve a feat like that... Truffaut tries to inject a philosophical slant to the whoring around, but no words, no matter how cleverly articulated, can mask the truth: namely that Katherine just gets bored with one penis far too easily then jumps on to the next. Just another floozy, what's there to discuss?

I found the narration to be too robotic, matter-of-fact. The narrator talked about all these complex emotional happenings, but he recited them with the passion/interest of a school-kid forced to recite a poem. In fact, they might as well have used Stephen Hawking's voice-box... Plus, some of the things said in the narration were superfluous, e.g. when Katherine walks Jim to the station in an obvious fog; it is then that the disinterested narrator informs us that "a fog has fallen". No kidding??

Oh, yes, and the movie is about destiny, for example Jim missing Katherine by only ten minutes in the bar, an event that could have changed everything... and... oh, whatever...
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Rambling Drivel
kenjha7 August 2011
Catherine marries Jules, but leaves him for Jim except that she has this thing for Albert, but she really loves Jules, although she misses Jim... This is basically a soap opera without rhyme or reason and it runs out of steam long before the ridiculous finale. It has no plot or point except to wallow in its Frenchness...easy women, effeminate men, free love, pretentious conversation. Moreau's Catherine is an annoying diva, although she is supposed to be so irresistible that her husband and lovers are willing to share her rather than risk losing her. The narration is pompous and superfluous. This unbearable drivel presents Truffaut at his indulgent worst. It's all style and no substance.
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Not sure why this is regarded as a classic...
grantss14 October 2015
The story of two friends, Jules and Jim. They meet in Paris before World War 1 and strike up a friendship. Jules falls in love with the enigmatic, volatile Catherine. However, Jim also has feelings for her...

I really don't know why this is regarded so highly. The story is mostly quite dull, the characters are not that engaging, the ending is abrupt and there isn't much point to the whole thing. Performances are unconvincing and a tad irritating.

It is quite morally progressive for 1962, and the relationships involved are quite liberal for the time, so maybe that's what all the fuss is about.
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Truffaut's Classic Relationship Triangle as Idiosyncratic, Disconcerting and Mesmerizing as Ever
EUyeshima27 May 2006
The enduring legacy around François Truffaut's emotionally turbulent 1962 film depends primarily on how compatible the three actors are in inhabiting the triangle at the core of the story adapted from Henri-Pierre Roché semi-autobiographical novel. And in fact, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre and especially Jeanne Moreau provide superbly etched characterizations in one of the defining works of the French New Wave. Fortunately, the two-disc Criterion Collection DVD set provides an appropriately rich package for this classic, although the print transfer is frustratingly variable at times.

The story focuses on the friendship between two writers, an Austrian named Jules and a Frenchman named Jim, kindred spirits who enjoy a decadent lifestyle in pre-WWI Paris. Inspired by a statue of a woman's face with a most enigmatic smile, they agree that they are destined to fall in love with a woman with the same smile. Enter Catherine, as seductively capricious a free-spirit as ever there was in cinema, and the two men are instantly enamored. Jules is intent on marrying her, even though it's clear from the outset that she is not one who could commit for the long term. The war intercedes, and the two friends are fighting on opposite sides. After the war, Catherine, married to Jules and raising their young daughter, is emotionally dissatisfied and embarks on an affair with Jim. With Jules' blessing, things are idyllic for a while, but Jim proves too much the alpha male to defer to Catherine's whims, and the resulting imbalance leads to increasingly dramatic consequences.

In just his third film, Truffaut's trademark style emerges with fast cuts between scenes and naturalistic camera movements (courtesy of Raoul Coutard's fluid cinematography). Moreover, George Delerue's animated music score and Michel Subor's voice-over add to the evocative photo-album memory atmosphere. At times, the storyline feels a bit disjointed, but the fulsome performances more than compensate. Werner fully captures the internal struggle within Jules in attempting to reconcile his love for Catherine with her impossible demands on him. Serre has the comparatively more objective role but convincingly shows his character surrendering to the tangled situation. After her impressive turn as an obsessed adulterer in Louie Malle's "Elevator to the Gallows", Moreau solidifies her vaunted reputation here, conveying Catherine's petulance and unyielding passion in a vividly mercurial fashion.

The DVD extras are abundant starting with two commentary tracks. The first one, a more factual account of the production, was recorded in 1992 with Truffaut collaborator Suzanne Schiffman, editor Claudine Bouche, co-screenwriter Jean Gruault, and scholar Annette Insdorf. The second, produced in 2000, is far better as it has Moreau sharing her personal recollections of the filming with Truffaut biographer Serge Toubiana. Disc One also includes a brief 1966 interview with Truffaut discussing Roché and a 1985 featurette, "The Key to Jules and Jim", which contains interviews with the author's friends as they discuss the inspirations for the characters. Disc Two takes a broader look at Truffaut with five separate interviews with the director over the span of fifteen years, as well as insightful interviews with Coutard and co-screenwriter Jean Gruault.
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An Obsolete Love
tedg10 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I have had a lot of trouble with this film, and in fact seeing it recently has instigated a mini-crisis in my belief system, at least so far as film.

You see, I saw this when if first appeared in the US, as a young man filling his bag with mindexpanding experiences. I was impressed with this `new wave' stuff, the placement of romanticism in life, and the realism in the filmmaking process: just the reverse of what Hollywood was doing. And in those days, Hollywood = establishment = repression and lies = racism and war. So by `seeing French,' I was entering an international community of intellectuals, fighting the good fight by filling the ether with enlightenment.

It is a real shock today to see this and be reminded how daft was that notion. In particular, I'm stopped in my tracks at how weak are the ideas. It is not just French film -- I recently resaw `Marienbad' and was similarly struck at how its value has compounded. No, it is THIS film. THESE notions.

Here's my shocker: I have long maintained that film is an evolving medium that is uniquely poised to reinvent how we think. A successful film to me is one that advances that evolution. I particularly like it when they do this is a self-aware, self-referential manner. But what about films that do just this, do become important in this way, but then become irrelevant? What about that?

On reflection, I must conclude that this film was just popular for cultural reasons (like `Schindler'), not important (like `Streetcar Named Desire'). An entire generation, in a sophomoric stupor, talked themselves into this fey romantic irony. Do we know better now, or have we just moved to another thin profundity? Which nervous infatuation, which lover?
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French machismo
J. Harlan6 May 2001
I don't understand why this film gains in popularity, and not infamy, as the years go by. Jules et Jim is all that is bad in French cinema. It's a deeply sentimental film, relying on the clichés of emotional and philosophical depth instead creating new pathways to them. Fuzzy lenses, grassy fields, dancing in the streets of Paris, love torn asunder by war. It's the stuff of The English Patient--all the tools of greatness and depth, but essentially lacking in insight. As Herzog would say, cinematic tourism.

Jules et Jim doesn't seem to comment in any real or important way upon monogamy, friendship, sexual difference, anything. Jules and Jim are indecisive, selfish protagonists in the great French existentialist tradition--when you don't know what to do with yourself, or find yourself somehow lacking, you have sex with the type of woman you want to be. Poor Jean Moreau is not a woman; she's a hurricane of potential existential and libidinal delights.

Jules and Jim are not passionate; they're sad and childish. Witness how they're so pacified by Moreau's rendition of the saccharine-sweet lullaby "Le Tourbillon."
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Unconventional Love Story
claudio_carvalho18 January 2009
In 1912, in Paris, the French bon-vivant Jim (Henri Serre) meets the insecure German Jules (Oscar Werner) and they begin a great friendship. When they meet the fickle and independent French Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), they immediately fall in love for her. However the naiveness and fragility of Jules attract the amoral Catherine and she marries him. With the First World War, the best friends Jules and Jim are separated but after the war, they reunite in Jules cottage in Germany. Jim stays with Jules, Catherine and their daughter Sabine (Sabine Haudepin), and Jules tells his friend that he is living together with Catherine, but she has affairs with her lovers. When Catherine falls in love for Jim, Jules asks him to stay with her at his house. Along the years, Jules and Jim live a triangle of love of Catherine, but never affecting their friendship and respect.

"Jules et Jim" is one of the most (or probably the most) unconventional love stories of the cinema history. For a 1962 movie, the daring tale is absolutely ahead of time, with Jeanne Moreau performing a character that never lets her love becoming boring or monotonous, reviving and renewing her feelings and desires with lovers and then returning for her husband. The friendship of Jules and Jim is weird and also unusual, with memorable performances of Henri Serre and Oscar Werner. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Jules e Jim – Uma Mulher Para Dois" ("Jules e Jim – A Woman for Two")
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menage à Trois
dbdumonteil4 June 2006
François Truffaut's third film is generally celebrated as a benchmark in his filmography but also in the Nouvelle Vague and even of the whole French cinema. Once again, such paeans of praise for this good but by no means extraordinary work go beyond me. A lot of viewers seemed to have been conquered by this story which is basically a novel penned by Henri-Pierre Roché. The former reviewer at the Cahiers Du Cinéma who once lambasted major French filmmakers of the forties and the fifties was struck by the mix of improper and purity which suffused in the novel. This is what galvanized him to film this unique story, at least for him and for the supporters of the film.

The first thing to bear in mind is that the starting point (two men and a women living together for a long period of their lives) isn't new. In 1933, Ernst Lubitsch had signed a work called "Design for Living". This sparkling comedy already sheltered a "menage à Trois" and was much more enjoyable and accessible than Truffaut's arty work. "Jules et Jim" was also celebrated for its innovative directing and its stunning camera work. Okay, it's a bonus for the film but once again I could argue that there is nothing astounding about it. On the same year the movie opened in 1962, John Frankenheimer cranked out the mind-boggling "the Mandchurian Candidate". It's not the same kind of film at all but I was much more very taken with the filmmaker's camera work which worked wonders to serve a far-fetched but thoroughly riveting story. Frankenheimer's magnum opus did better since it heralded the political thriller which had its hour or rather decade glory in the seventies with works like Alan J. Pakula's "the Parallax View" (1974). In "Jules et Jim", the creative liberties dear to the New Wave clique are well present and enhanced to try to reflect the mood a sequence could convey, especially in the first half (before the war) which brims with happiness and lightness. The whole dovetailed to establish a good dose of escape and dream to the audience. Actually, Truffaut's movie is half successful in the way the first part (before the war) makes sense in my eyes. There is none disadvantage in watching a threesome of two men and a woman leading a freewheeling life without any major problems (financial or other). But after the war, the second part veers to a somber direction and things go wrong because their demeanors are elusive to my mind. I don't understand their actions, their motivations, especially Jules'. If he is so unfortunate with Catherine, then why doesn't he go away? Catherine's character seems to be dangerous because she jeopardizes Jules and Jim's friendship. Catherine's behavior and persona leave me baffled. What doesn't facilitate things is that she pronounces one cue which can infuriate the ones who aren't touched by this story: "I don't want to be understood". Besides, I do think that Truffaut's film is peppered with lines which seem ludicrous to me such as "it's twenty to one", "an angel is passing" "it's normal, angels pass at twenty of every hour".

"Jules et Jim" is the Nouvelle Vague in all its splendor and its pretensions with an emphasis on the form rather than the content which remains unfathomable to me. Storytelling is not Truffaut's forte or otherwise it obeys to a form of logic which is out of reach to me. That's what I want to gently laugh at his contention that "a film is a story and a story has to be told. Even in the cinema". But in spite of his tricks and devices to tell the steps of this story and make the characters likable (use of neutral voice-over), I'm not touched at all. What to say about the cast? Each actor has the head in the clouds, seems to act apart their respective roles. Hence, an impression of false. Jeanne Moreau is a remarkable actress but elsewhere and still today. Check François Ozon's latest opus "Le Temps Qui Reste" (2005). She only appears ten minutes but her part is momentous and understandable for the progression of Romain's sickness.

I'll surely provoke an angry response from the defenders of the film but "Jules et Jim", this mix of slightness and gravity in the same bag has no effect on me. But there are some of Truffaut's "Nouvelle Vaguesque" peers for whom the notion of storytelling is absent from their cinematographic concerns like Jean-Luc Godard's stream of consciousness-like Pierrot Le Fou" (1965).
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Good in parts but generally over long, dreary and unengaging.
tresdodge5 January 2005
In the early 1900's two men meet, Jules an Austrian (Oscar Werner), and Jim a Frenchman (Henri Serre). As their friendship grows they indulge in more and more womanising, nearly always sharing their lovers. However, when Catherine comes into their life things change and Jules marries her, nevertheless, a few years later she starts to fall for Jim. Thus develops a bizarre love triangle which seems set to lead to a dramatic ending.

I'm a fan of many Truffaut films, 'The 400 Blows' being one of my favourite ever films, but I found this tedious, uninteresting and I was unable to emotionally engage with any of the characters. Technically it was very good and I realize that his style has influenced the finest directors of the contemporary cinema which we enjoy today.

However, in terms of story and the ability to allow me to empathize with characters it faltered. As the film went on I become more and more uninterested and even less enthusiastic for the film form and techniques Truffaut had crafted.

Perhaps this film is like Marmite, (or so the advertisers would have us believe), you either love it or hate it. For me it hardly sustained my interest and although I don't hate it the story failed to engage me whatsoever.
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Problematic, But Worth Your Time
WoodyFan198717 August 2004
Jules et Jim is a difficult film, there's no question about that. I'd say the only thing that kept me watching was my love of Truffaut – his ingenuity in cinematography, dialogue and just the whole tone of the film. That he could keep such melodramatic (if not drab) stuff somewhat entertaining is a testament to his mastery of the medium. I loved the blending of historical film into the narrative; I don't know if he was the first person to do this – I highly doubt it – but he certainly did it well in this picture.

Jules et Jim is a study of capriciousness. Catherine – a woman to whom monogamy seems like a foreign concept – is, to paraphrase the film, `not particularly intelligent, beautiful or kind, but she's treated like a queen.' Why Jules and Jim love her so, I don't know. They seem like strong enough characters to be without such a difficult woman, but I guess that question is at the center of the film.

For some reason, Jules et Jim reminded me of L'Avventura by Antonioni – maybe because it was also a hard movie to enter and because the characters were so inaccessible. There are certainly elements of the neo-realism in this film, (one need look no further than the extensive use of mist and the forest scenes that closely resemble the dream sequences of Fellini, De Sica, et. al.)

Overall, I would say this picture is worthwhile, although there are certainly better, more accessible and mature Truffaut films out there.
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oooooh wow, it's truffaut. how exciting!!!
resdogs-18 September 2005
of course i knew before going into this movie that it was going to suck. i mean, since when have french new wave films been anything more than useless camera tricks trying to cover up a terrible and incoherent story? i am so sick of people treating these french new wave guys as if they were gods. there's more to film-making than long takes and spastic editing. the most important thing obviously being the ability to tell a story. which is apparently a feat too complicated for these people to understand.

enough with my diatribe about french new wave in general, let me talk about this particular garbage. for starters, i have to discuss the crazy gay undertones that dominate our introduction of jules and jim. i mean, i know they're good friends and all, but what is up with their excitement to take a shower together? and their slap fighting later on at the beach? not that there's anything wrong with that. but i just thought it was weird and completely pointless to have in the movie, especially considering the fact that we're supposed to believe that they're in love with this woman later. While the whole movie is a mess, i'll just go right to the end. how many times does it take for someone to realize that a person doesn't love you? the characters were so unrealistic and completely ridiculous in their attempts to leave each other and them come back, and then leave and come back, and leave once again....only to come back. END THE MOVIE ALREADY!!! i feel like i can't mention the whole coming back thing without speaking of when jim comes back and catherine pulls out a gun and tries to shoot him. wow, this scene has all the grace and tension of a Uwe Boll movie. i guess now we know where he got his inspiration from. and then he grabs the gun and jumps out the window?!?!?!?!? wtf? OK, i'll admit that was dumb but the fact that he goes back and meets with her again as if nothing happened? word? is that what guys in France did back then? not to mention that he later gets in the car with her to go for a drive. when there's obviously only one place for the car to go.......especially once you realize they're on a half-mile long road with a broken bridge, while they're driving at a whopping 10mph. which leads to the car going off the bridge and into the water. at least that part was funny. if i ever have to decide between watching this movie (or any other french new waves for that matter) or having my eyes removed with a dull razor......well, i just hope that i'll get a good seeing eye dog. that's it, i'm done.
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Left me Cold
Tatay4 October 1999
The characters seemed incredibly stupid and two dimensional. The cinematography seemed amateurish at times. The movie was depressing, without any sort of redeeming virtue, as far as I could tell.
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For Whatever Reason
Hitchcoc19 January 2010
Having seen this film a few times as I have moved through life, I'm always left with the same thought: Why waste one's life on someone as shallow as Jeanne Moreau's character. She is fickle, mean spirited, impulsive. She is beautiful, but as the film moves forward, even that seems like it's fading. I realize it is what it is. You can't criticize a film for presenting two guys (actually three) who do truly love this woman. Sometimes I wonder if they love the time as much as the person. Their lives are really empty. They are just the opposite of their love. They are slow to move and act. One of them could die of terminal shyness. They are willing to pay a horrible price just to be around her. She seems classically bipolar in many ways, but sick people sometimes attract sick people. And, of course, love is something hard to quantify. There is something funereal about the whole thing. Truffaut masterfully frames this film. Images are carefully constructed as we view the frolicking in the French countryside. LIke with all those guys in literature who would rather die than give up hope, I wanted them to save themselves.
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