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François Truffaut's exuberant, sublimely romantic account of two best friends (Oskar Werner and Henri Serre) and their decades-long love triangle with the bewitching Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) is one of the most beloved classics of the French New Wave.
Sublimely romantic, "Truffaut's finest film" (Vincent Canby) chronicles the making and breaking of a ménage à trois between the end of the belle époque and the beginning of the Second World War. The friendship between two bohemians — Jules (Oskar Werner), a shy Austrian entomologist, and Jim (Henri Serre), a dashing French novelist — is disrupted when they both fall in love with their ideal woman, Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). Capricious, exuberant, narcissistic, thoroughly modern and not a little mad, Catherine is impossible to possess, a fact Jules and Jim cannot accept. (Moreau said of Catherine: "She's not immoral. She's absolute.") Giddy on the possibilities of cinema, Truffaut fills the widescreen frame with exuberant photographic and editing effects, composing with a sometimes delirious camera whose circling and swirling captures the vertigo that Jules and Jim experience when they are close to the tragically elusive Catherine. "The film that made me the most fondly jealous of Truffaut. I wish I'd made it" (Jean Renoir); "Elliptical, full of wit and radiance, this is the best movie ever made about what most of us think of as the Scott Fitzgerald period" (Pauline Kael).