Jules et Jim Movie Review
Jules (Oskar Werner) is Austrian and Jim (Henri Serre) is French. They're best friends, and after their favorite gal, Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), experiences flirtations with both men, she ends up married to Jules. The War comes and goes (they fight on opposite sides), and Jules and Jim rekindle their friendship. Visiting their rural home, though, Jim finds Jules and Catherine's marriage far from idyllic. Before long, Jules is begging Jim to take her -- anything to ensure her happiness.
Truffaut's direction is the star of the show -- a rapid-fire collection of zooms, freeze-frames, split screens, varying film stocks, and stock footage -- immediately establishing a new era of filmmaking in France (the film is generally regarded as one of the first of the French New Wave and undoubtedly the best movie to come out of that phase). The acting is exceptional as well, with Werner's mile-a-minute mouth balancing Serre's smoldering quietness. But besting them both is Jeanne Moreau's carefree love goddess, establishing her stage present with a sudden jump into the Seine River. Putting Truffaut's direction together with these performances creates an unforgettable movie experience -- it may not resemble reality in any way, but it's certainly romantic.
Making up for a terrible old DVD, Jules et Jim is now available on a Criterion DVD edition, which has mercifully been restored and cleaned up for reissue. Two commentary tracks (one including Moreau), interviews, memoirs, and archival video round out this two-disc set. Highly recommended.
Aka Jules and Jim.
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