“Jim and Jules, then?” Said Thérèse to Jim. “No, Jules and Jim.” Jim said to us, as an audience, laughing together. Simply, with just the conversation, I know this is a romantic love triangle. And just with it, I know it would end tragically as well. François Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim” is about two young men: Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre). They both accidentally met in 1912, before WWI happened, and became friends forever. Jules, simply, is one of the most guys who just want a girl. He tries to be open-minded but doesn’t want the perfect one either.
He dates women with all kinds of uniqueness. Sometimes, he finds women who were too perfect. But, he also found women who were too shy, talk too much, but also too weak. And then, the story starts slowly when he finds Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), the main heroine in this movie. From here, the story begins from a somewhat absurd but charming love affair to their separation at the end of the film. The question is, who will get a happy and bad ending?
“Jules and Jim” is Truffaut’s third feature film. After writing “Breathless” with Godard too, this film became one of the most influential, especially in the New Wave cinema. It’s a movie, and a rom-com also, that feels refreshingly enjoyable, full of joy, and is never memorable cheap. There is the style that lies on just like rom-com films in general also takes inspiration from this film. And that’s why this movie is memorable in all aspects starting from the characters especially the main heroine and so on. It’s a comedy but sometimes becomes a soap opera about the tragedy. It’s powerful when you don’t think how the characters change their roles to another character.
Oskar Werner’s Jules is a Parisian who has more charm and free characteristics, unlike Jim, his best friend. Jules said after he found the most ideal girl in his life, his life would be perfect. But, Thérèse (Marie Dubois) isn’t just a simple yet idealistic girl. She is critical but not infrequently she smokes at the end of each scene. Above all, Jules only sees Henri Serre’s Jim and also Catherine as more than friends. It’s not just what are the reasons they are always together and play different roles. But, it’s the ideal point of view that makes everyone unable to become perfect. That’s what we called friends.
It’s hard to say if this movie is a bit of misogyny especially when critics in this era also say it is like which. But, the reality that this movie redefines a love romance story becomes more complex. It’s not about a guy who falls in love with a woman or vice versa. But, it takes such a simple theme, about love, and turns it into more complicated ways. Romance isn’t just about romance; it’s about how the beginning and the end always be interesting.
The movie turns into a lighthearted and love triangle story to a tragedy especially the ending. It contains a passion besides set in before and after WWI. Along with “Citizen Kane”, “Jules and Jim” is a cinematic form. It’s using a narration that cinema at the time never used. It creates an unparalleled story to a modern film that also includes romance. This movie has a simple story yet much more complicated to say. It’s about two friends who fall in love with the same girl. As they are honest with each other, they don’t feel that all of this can ruin their friendship. It’s the opposite.
Jeanne Moreau plays as Catherine, the charming one and has a cynical and discontent view of the world. It makes her not only an antagonist character for some people. But, it creates more and more layers mostly because of her action. She is unpredictable, fundamental, and always shock her friends, including the audience too, because of her decision. Just like the ending where you don’t know where it’s coming from.
Similar to “The 400 Blows“, Truffaut used a grammar he wrote himself. There are establishing shots, close-ups, reactions shots and many more. But, with just a hand-held style, he creates a lot more to the frame and also narrative. The unnoticeable freeze frames, like an image that is a moving picture like a collection of photos put together. He rearranges an image and turns them into movement, space, and characters. It’s more like a modernism work but instead, it’s more like a post-modernism one.
This movie is beautiful. It deconstructs and takes inspiration from history, creates an obsession and art form, and becomes a framing itself. It’s far from a movie with all of the characters were douchebag or else. But, its heart turns into more complicated love stories about us. “Jules and Jim” is a rare cinema because you don’t get this movie anymore in this era. It’s a 1960s movie but still more than such year. It’s modern at the time and still be ahead in this present time.
4 out of 5 stars.