Top 50 - #5 - Jules et Jim

Whenever I hear someone extolling the greatness of Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulian, aka. Amelie, I feel like just sitting them down in front of my TV and pushing Jules et Jim into the DVD-player. Jeunet doesn't deny his influence, of course - Amelie is seen watching a scene from Jules et Jim at one point, and he does use some of the elements, including a voice-over eerily similar in tone, to great effect. He's even able to add some things, most notably in his use of color. Ultimately though, there is one thing that makes Jules et Jim many times more fascinating that Amelie, and by far the greater film, and that is Catherine.

I don't think any woman like her has ever been put on screen: willful, strong, yet ever changing and impossible to get a grasp on. She is truly - as much as that expression is a cliche - a force of life: someone whose passion is for living and for living grandly, wildly, freely. She can stand in for every woman, but at the same time I don't know anyone even remotely like her.

Nobody could have played her as well as Jeanne Moreau, of course. She's infuriating, but you can understand why Jules and Jim can't let her go, why she exerts a fascination on them even before they meet, and why they go along with her plans, her desires. Why they try so hard to make her happy, even knowing that it's an impossible task. Why they strive to understand this strange woman, who jumps into the Seine out of protest, dresses up as a man at will, and laughs that wonderful, triumphant, and slightly intimidating laugh.

The tragedy, of course, is that just like Jules and Jim can never be free of Catherine, she can never be free, because she can never be satisfied. She simply wants too much: the home life with Jules, the love life with Jim, the sex life with Albert, even, and independence despite all this. Yet she never, ever stops trying, and even at the end, where it could be said she gives up, you can also see it as her trying out a whole new form of freedom.

There's more to the film, of course. It's gorgeous to look at, the music is amazing, and the tempo, the pace, is unlike any other film I know. It's a tragic film, in a way, but it never makes me said, just melancholic, wistful and feeling like throwing my life upside down. Feeling like simply living more.


Melissa said...

I can watch this movie everyday and never tire of it.

The same with La Notte.


Little Melisse Ain't Got No Beau, No Bread

cjKennedy said...

You totally make me want to see this again. I think I was side tracked by the title and my focus really should've been on Jean Moreau instead of the two men. They're important, but she's at the center of it all.

I think my first viewing was a case where my experience was crushed under the weight of expectation from being in the presence of a 'classic'. It can be hard for a movie to live up to it's own reputation

Justine said...

I rank it within the same few spot assuming I ever make a list. Jules et Jim is perfection.

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