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Jules et Jim

The film begins in Paris in 1912, when two writers-Jules (Oskar Werner), a shy German, and Jim (Henri Serre), a dark-haired Parisian-become obsessed with an ancient stone carving of a woman. Their life changes when they meet Catherine (Moreau), the personification of the stone goddess, whose smile enchants both men. Jules begins to court her, but only with Jim’s blessing. The film is a celebration both of love and cinema. Truffaut directs with equal concern for his characters and for film technique, and one never overshadows the other. Not only are Jules and Jim in love with Catherine, but so is Truffaut’s camera, which swirls and dollies to capture her every movement. Moreau returns the compliment by giving one of her most memorable performances. Catherine represents an ideal that is to destroy the friendship between Jules and Jim. She is a variation on the classic femme fatale figure, but she’s invested with surprising amounts of charm and tenderness by Moreau and Truffaut. The miracle of Truffaut’s treatment has to do with the way in which his inimitable delicacy of touch succeeds in maintaining a balance between lyricism and tragedy in this story of a doomed menage à trois.
France, 1962. English subtitles. Black and white. Anamorphic. 105 mins.

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