Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jules and Jim--a review

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I have mixed feelings about Jules and Jim. On one hand it's stylistically profound, of another world, a mile marker in the great journey of filmmaking content and technique; on the other hand it's about an insane muse that makes every man who comes into her life fall madly in love with her, including two best friends who revolve their entire lives around her capricious cries, calls and random disappearances to sleep with other men. 

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I can't quite put my finger on what irks me overall about this film, whether it's of knowing actual women like that in real life who gave harm to my friends, not being enchanted by Jeanne Moreau, the weakness of both men, perhaps all of it. Perhaps the film makes me recognize and hate a selfish part of myself that I've left behind...that's another story.

I imagine if this film were made today, Kate Hudson, or someone equally attractive, would play the role, while two helpless shmucks whined around her slapstick suicide attempts, eating sandwiches together, while on the side--eating whatever shit she doled out, depending on her boredom.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot in the Royal Tenenbaums got it right at least with her cold sincerity and regal demeanor, but she was a misunderstood genius, not a cataclysmic mess for the sake of being cataclysmic.
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Female characters feasting on the souls of pathetic men is not compelling, unless the genre is horror, thriller or comedy, none of which was Jules and Jim--a "quirky, romantic, cerebral" drama? Undoubtedly cerebral, yes, but romantic, I couldn't say, unless romance is declared synonymous with terminal illness. But ask most poets; they'll say yes to that one in a snap.

But many people love this film, especially because of the director and the directing, because it's French and quirky in that dark, French manner of dysfunction being real and hilarious and charming women who are crazy drive men mad with desire versus boring beautiful women with every their predictable mannerism just sitting there with nothing to say--yes, yes, yes, I see the attraction and the fodder for conversation this film would bring, the debates of what is what defines art and New Wave greatness.


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Jules and Jim is a walloping time capsule of style preserving culture, attitudes, an homage to joie de vivre and the struggles in love which make even the strongest of humans vulnerable in its pursuit. Hence, its  infamy, and its ever growing list of admirers placing it on the pedestal of greatness. 

I myself wouldn't watch it again unless I got in a time machine, went 12 years back into my reckless, carefree lifestyle and turned it on to watch after downing half a bottle of wine with a malleable male admirer, or two. Ah, but then it would all make sense.
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