Friday, June 14, 2013

The greatest film ever made; the greatest pain ever felt...

Some films just reach a special place in your heart; maybe because of personal situations that mirror the films content, literally or figuratively. Maybe it's because the cause or moral is something close to you, something you firmly believe in. Maybe it's because the very essence of the film speaks to your love of cinema or your love of mankind. Whatever the reason, we are all drawn to and find solace in films we can connect to. 

For me, `Jules et Jim' is that kind of film. 

`Jules et Jim' is a remarkable story of two men and their unwavering love for one another and for a woman named Catherine. The film spans over 30 years and finds Catherine waltzing into their lives, taking root in Jules heart only to give herself to Jim. What is so moving about this film is that, despite their undeniable love triangle, the relationship between Jules and Jim never falters. Their bond is the central most important facet to the flow of their lives, and if their relationship were to crack and fade then Catherine would find herself alone; literally. As much as Jules loves Catherine, his love for his friend, his comrade, is stronger and thus makes the acceptance of Jim's love for Catherine more acceptable and understandable. It's almost as if they share the same woman to be that much closer to one another. 

This film is a beautiful depiction of pure friendship. 

When I initially saw ‘Jules et Jim’ I was spellbound.  I think what made this film so special to me was the fact that it reflected my own personal feelings for that of my best friend, and knowing that our feelings were mutual made this film all that much more a big part of our lives. When Jules and Jim move to the big house with Catherine it is the epitome of paradise for these two men as they can share life's every moment with one another. 

The films second act shows the downside to this bond; the pain and suffering that comes from something attaching themselves too much to another. What at first seemed so beautiful and so pure has begun to corrode the friendship that Jules and Jim put so much trust in. Catherine slowly begins to despise the two men she has corrupted and begins to turn their lives inside out. This may be purely my personal interpretation of the film, but as the final frame came upon me, and Jules tragedy was all the more lingering in my mind, I couldn't help but draw the conclusion that romantic fantasizing has no place in pure platonic love. What I mean is that, this film (to me at least) further impresses the importance of keeping your romantic feelings out of the way of your platonic friendships, for while you may wish to share any and everything with someone you are very close to, in the end it can be that boundless interchange that can ruin the purity of your love for one another. 

This is where the reality of this film took an emotional and all too real turn for myself, and further reason why this film continues to stand as, in my humble opinion, the greatest film ever made.  Over the years, my (now former) best friend and I built a relationship very similar to that of Jules and Jim.  We shared everything, including our personal fantasies, but to prove the film’s point, there is no place for that in a platonic relationship.

A wise man once told me that sex ruins everything.

As our relationship grew and our lines were blurred there comes that moment when life smacks you in the face and I found myself starring at the cliff and the car and my best friend and everything shattered in a way that I could have never imagined.

There is so much truth here. 

The acting in this film is superb on all accounts, and truly anchors the message. There are films that live within the acting (that showing outlandish kind of acting that takes over a movie) and then there is acting that lives and breaths within the film, allowing the overall prose and or focus of the film to envelope them. Oskar Werner, Henri Serre and especially Jeanne Moreau do just that. Werner plays Jules with this distilled emotional relevance, keeping his feelings open yet seemingly guarded so as not to overpower the scenes. Think Tom Wilkinson in `In the Bedroom' and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Henri Serre is a little more enigmatic than Werner, keeping Jim a mystery of sorts. He's a nice contrast to Werner, although at times I did find him a little dry and did wish he would have inserted more of the natural charm and likeability I found in Werner. Moreau is beyond the films star here though, capturing our hearts and our attention with her firm grasp on her character's personality. She is vivacious and alarming, completely consuming with her natural engaging of the people around her. She delivers one of the smartest and greatest performances of the 60's, by far. 

So, if you are looking for a thought provoking film that tackles the idea of male bonding unlike any other film then this is one you need to see. It is not a film about obsession, at least not in the sense in which many view it. While Catherine's character plays a major role in the film (and Moreau is without doubt the scene stealing star) the films primary focus is on Jules and Jim and their love for one another. Instead of being obsessed with Catherine, the men are truly obsessed with one another.


  1. Great write-up man! I've seen this a couple of times, but I really need to give it another look. I do love it, though. :)

    1. LOL, I hate when I miss a comment. I just dug this up to show it to Keith, and I realize you commented and I didn't respond. I hope you checked this out again...I think you did, right? For your CineSpec Awards. Now I need to bounce over there and take another glance at those.