Sixties sensation has become just a bit tired

PUBLISHED: 13:42 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:07 07 September 2010

Jules et jim (pg) Director Francois Truffaut Starring Jeanne Moreau, Oscar Werner, Henri Serre, Boris Bassiak, Vanna Urbino French with subtitles Black and white, 105 mins Two star rating This treasure of the French Novelle Vague, Truffaut s third film t

Jules et jim (pg)

Director Francois Truffaut

Starring Jeanne Moreau, Oscar Werner, Henri Serre, Boris Bassiak, Vanna Urbino French with subtitles

Black and white, 105 mins

Two star rating

This treasure of the French Novelle Vague, Truffaut's third film that was a sensation on its release in 1962, is being re-released as the centrepiece of a season to celebrate Jeanne Moreau 80th birthday. It's torture.

I can understand, just about, that at the start of the sixties, or rather at the end of the fifties, there could have been something thrilling about this giddy menage a trois set either side of the First World War. To a contemporary audience though it's like listening to an episode of Around the Horne; not necessarily without its pleasures but fundamentally an artefact trapped in its period.

It is supposed to be an expression of free spirits, but is just a bad case of wacky. It starts off happy wacky, like a poor man's Hard Day's Night, but goes on to be maudlin wacky, which is just a horrible combination.

Truffaut had launched himself with two stunning movies The 400 Blows and Shoot The Pianist and you can't deny the skill and energy with which he stitches an historical piece together from bits of newsreel footage.

The love of film-making is clear; it's the characters that appal. They all seem to exist in a cosy bubble of self regard. Jules (Werner) and Jim (Serre) are a couple of gallivanting writers (though their existence seems blissful untouched by anything approaching work) who become friends in pre-war Paris and then both become entranced with the clearly loopy Catherine (Moreau.)

Catherine is seen as a daringly capricious free spirit, yet her actions seem mostly spiteful and vindictive. The men aren't much better. Jim treats the woman who loves him disdainfully while Jules is a doormat. (Or is it the other way round? I can never quite fix in my mind which is which. If only Truffaut had thought to always have them stand in name order, like Ant and Dec do.)


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