Jules et Jim


Sometimes I watch films recommended by the critics and I understand the art and the beauty behind them. Perhaps I'm not aware of all the filmic techniques that went into making them, nor entirely persuaded as to the art, but I find them powerful, enjoyable, watchable, and perhaps even entertaining.

Not so with this highly recommended film by François Truffaut. Obviously I do not have the sensibilité Français, and, frankly, if this film represents either French or European sensibilities, I'm glad to be stuck in my American rut. It is an aimless mishmash of a ménage á trois that fails to entertain, amuse, enlighten, or even be nice to look at.

Jules and Jim are best friends; Jules is Austrian, Jim is French. In the course of the film they both fall for Catherine, a rather shallow, self-centered, vicious adulteress. At the start of WW I Jules and Jim are separated by their allegiances and Jules marries Catherine--a mistake if ever one was made. AFter the war the three reunite and carry on in a fashion unbecoming goats, much less human beings. Jules realizes that Catherine is about to live him and their daughter Sabine so he invites Jim to be her husband and live together in the same house. But, of course, Catherine tires of Jim and so the story goes.

I could see neither the directorial brilliance of Truffaust (which, honestly eludes me with every film I see by him) nor the value of the film that earned rave reviews from several major critics. I couldn't believe that anyone would put up with the nonsense dished out by Catherine or would choose to live their lives in such an unstable and unsettled fashion. The cinematography did not enchant and the endless odd angels of railway stations, the Eiffel Tower and whatever other object happened to fall under the camera's scrutiny was enough to induce vertigo. What we have is a amoral mishmash that winds up in a tragedy that leaves the viewer heaving a sigh of relief that the film is finally over. Why I watched the whole thing, I do not know. I suppose I thought something might happen that would redeem the hideous spectacle that was playing out before my eyes. I don't know what I was supposed to have gotten from this film--but all I was left with was a sense that I would think very carefully about watching another Truffaut film. (This despite the fact that I did enjoy L'enfant Sauvage and Fahrenheit 451

NOT recommended unless required by your local film department and then, please be so kind as to tell me why anyone thinks this film is magnifique.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 18, 2006 8:49 AM.

The Many Disappointments of Truman was the previous entry in this blog.

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