Jules et Jim
French New Wave filmmaker Francois Truffaut’s third film, made in 1962, was undoubtedly his masterpiece. Set in the 1910s and 20s it is the story of a freewheeling love triangle between alpha female Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), Austrian Jules (Oskar Werner) and Frenchman Jim (Henri Serre). As far as the boys are concerned their old friend Catherine is mad, bad and wonderful to know. Life without her is simply not worth living. Catherine marries Jules who quickly realises that sexually or emotionally he cannot hold this independent, modern and schizophrenically neurotic woman on his own so encourages Jim’s interest in her. Cinema’s greatest ménage a trois falls in to place against a background of war and the painful grind of history.
Released on a lovely new print, Truffaut’s film still speaks to a contemporary consciousness. It’s a film about the coming of change in sexual freedom and antiquated institutions that controlled the educated masses (the so called Summer of Love and May 68 lay in the not too distant future).
Truffaut, here shows a lightness of touch that was later to desert him. There’s a breeziness and subtlety to the Godardian overlaps and Jean Vigo-like leaps in continuity. Truffaut is having fun and so are we.