Directed By: François Truffaut
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre
Trivia: Jean Renoir was a fan of this film, and wrote Truffaut a letter saying how much he liked it. Truffaut carried that letter around for years afterward
Jules and Jim is the chronicle of a failed experiment, undertaken by three people who loved each other very much, yet were done in by their inability to separate friendship from romance.
Jules (Oskar Werner), a shy German living in Paris, is good friends with Jim (Henri Serre), an outgoing Frenchman. Their relationship blossoms in the days leading up to World War I, and together, they experience all the Parisian single life has to offer. When Jules’ friend, Albert (Boris Bassiak), shows the two a picture of an ancient statue, one that depicts a beautiful woman, both Jules and Jim fall instantly in love with it, and agree that, if they ever found a girl whose features resembled this work of art, they'd immediately claim her as their own. This quest for the perfect mate ends the day they’re introduced to Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), who has every quality, every ounce of beauty Jules and Jim have been searching for. Before long, each one is deeply in love with her, and Catherine, herself a free spirit, cares equally for both Jules and Jim. Through the years, the friends will take turns loving her, yet ultimately, the unpredictable Catherine is a treasure neither can truly possess.
At first, Catherine appears to be the physical embodiment of the statue Jules and Jim had become enamored with, and Truffaut frames her as such at their first meeting, capturing Moreau’s facial features by employing the same camera angles presented in Albert’s photos. But Catherine proves much more complex than this idealized image of her, and her feelings for both dooms any chance of a relationship with either. This, in turn, leads to an unsettling exposition of Jules’ and Jim’s friendship. They consent to share Catherine, convincing themselves such an unusual situation, where romance and camaraderie are treated as one, may present the perfect condition for love to blossom. Yet the arrangement leaves them feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled. Werner and Serre are strong in their respective roles, but Jules and Jim belongs to Moreau. As Catherine, she's the picture of beauty, and despite her character's flightiness, we have no problem believing a pair of friends would do whatever they could to have her, even if it meant sharing.
Neither Jules nor Jim were prepared for this so-called ‘perfect’ union, and one might argue Catherine, in spite of her apparent worldliness, was also out of her league. These three truly believed they were standing on the threshold of a wonderful new way of life, which would forever replace the notion that two is the ideal romantic number. In the end, it blew up in their faces.