Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jules and Jim (Rhoades)

‘Jules and Jim” Is Three-Way Delight on Monday Night

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
LPTV’s Mary Sparacio is at it again this coming Monday night, continuing her showings of old classics at the Tropic Cinema. This time around she’s pulled out a 1962 masterpiece called “Jules and Jim,” a perfect example of French New Wave filmmaking by François Truffaut.

Described in as “the audacious apotheosis of the French New Wave,” Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim” represents a new (at the time) language of cinema, one that incorporated newsreel footage, photographs, freeze frame, dolly shots, wipes, and voiceover narration. Some shots used cameras mounted on bicycles.

This is a film that epitomizes that French phrase ménage à trois. Here is the story of a three-way love affair between – as the title implies – a shy writer named Jules, his outgoing friend Jim, plus a free-spirited young woman named Catherine.

These Bohemians carry on a mix-and-match relationship that spans 20 years, from Belle Epoch to Great Depression, those periods that bracket World War I.

Although the film is named after the two men, the woman is in fact the dominant character. Jeanne Moreau is perfectly cast as the charmer who reminds them of a statue they once saw. Oskar Werner is Jules; Henri Serre is Jim.

These characters were supposedly based on avant-garde artist Beatrice Wood’s triangular relationship with painter Marcel Duchamp and writer Henri-Pierre Roché. Truffaut based the film on a book written late in life by Roché. Beatrice Woods once commented, “I cannot say what memories or episodes inspired Roché, but the characters bear only passing resemblance to those of us in real life!”

Such is fiction, such is film. [from Solares Hill]

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