Sunday, 23 August 2015

I've Just Seen: Jules et Jim (1962)

Jules et Jim (1962)
Director: Francois Truffaut

My favourite film critic Mark Kermode refers to the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague in French) as 'the New Vague.' While a joke on his part (he is not enamoured of the film movement), there is certainly some truth in what he says; these films have a vagueness about them. The characters are uncertain about what they want; the camera moves with a freedom that belies an unfocused approach to narrative. Catherine, the true star of this film, is a character unsure of what she wants. She loves both Jules and Jim, yet cannot have both. Jules and Jim are also wandering through life unable to articulate or effect what it is they want.

I enjoyed Truffaut's The 400 Blows more than this, probably due to the performance of Jean-Pierre Leaud. Perhaps the freshness that this style of filmmaking brought in has worn off. Movies have absorbed these techniques, mixing them with traditional shots; as a result, Jules et Jim looks less radical than it once did. It does still feel playful, and the image of the three standing at windows in a triangle shape was great. The three main characters are rather unknowable and often unlikable, though the camera clearly loves Jeanne Moreau's face.

There is always a feeling of satistfaction in seeing a film that is a giant of film history. I am not sure if I will watch this again, at least not anytime soon, but I do appreciate the effect the French New Wave had on cinema.

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