Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre
Director: François Truffaut
Running Time: 105 mins
Jules And Jim (Jules et Jim) is a French film about two old friends, and an impulsive woman with whom they have a strong relationship, and the development of a love triangle between them over the years.
The French New Wave is notorious for enjoyable and engrossing films that pass with a deliriously incoherent vibe, and while some make for brilliant watches, others are just a little too much to go along with. When it comes to Jules And Jim, I was grabbed by the zippy energy of the film’s opening act, however the remainder of the story is a disappointingly stale affair that just drags on a little too long.
Let’s start off on the bright side, however, with the film’s opening act, which is by far the most engaging and entertaining part. Kicking off with a rapid-paced energy that sees our leads Jules and Jim and their young friendship in the years before the First World War, proving both an entertaining and delightfully frenetic watch in the vein of other New Wave films such as Breathless and Zazie Dans Le Métro.
Complete with typically stylish direction from François Truffaut, and the archetypal narration that gives the movie its greatest New Wave flavour, it’s an enjoyable and striking opening to the film, and quickly allows you to grow to like Jules and Jim, as well as the woman of their affections, Catherine.
That zippy and frenetic energy lasts well throughout the first act, however it’s when the film has a change of time period and location that things really fell apart for me. There’s a jarring shift into something a lot more dramatic and serious about a third of the way through, and although it’s not uncommon for films of this era to change just like that, the way that the movie changes atmosphere so significantly was a point of real frustration for me, leaving you little opportunity to reaccustom your expectations from something a lot lighter to something much heavier.
That’s not to say that the remainder of Jules And Jim is completely devoid of the energy and fun of the opening act, but it’s the fact that it descends into a story that is a lot more stationary, and doesn’t really move on from that premise for the rest of the movie that proves most frustrating, with the love triangle cemented at the beginning of the second act, but with little real development beyond its initial state throughout.
It reminds me a little of the final act of La Dolce Vita, which after the stylish and eye-popping elegance of the beginning, is somewhat of an exhausting and tedious affair, with the film sitting a little too still, never doing enough to replicate the brilliance of its previous portion, and making for a disappointingly stale finale to the film.
Truffaut still directs the film with style and ingenuity throughout, but in comparison to his earlier works such as The 400 Blows, Jules And Jim just doesn’t have the depth to really keep you enthralled all the way through, which is what makes it an ultimately disappointing watch in my book, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7 overall.