Reasons I watched this movie: All I ever knew about it was this one scene with the two guys and the woman running over the bridge and I wanted to know more. I like Oskar Werner. I liked Jeanne Moreau in “Les amants”. I like the ménage à trois theme.
When I started watching this I had no idea what to expect except for a love triangle. I was immediately drawn in by the voice of the narrator who started telling the story of how Jules and Jim met in this detached and very fast way. As I had decided to watch the film in French with German subtitles it was very hard to take it all in at first, my French being somewhat rusty. After a while, however, I got used to it, especially thanks to Oskar Werner who spoke rather slowly and precisely, a fact that made Truffaut cast Werner in the first place. At least that is what I read somewhere on the net and it makes sense; after all Jules is no native speaker, but a German. Then again, Werner is an Austrian which made we wonder whether Germans and Austrians are interchangeable to most people?
Anyway, once the introductions are made we get quickly to the moment where Catherine is entering the two friends’ lives and the ball gets rolling. Both men are instantly infatuated with Catherine who is most ambiguous and completely selfish. She takes what she wants and when she wants it. Emotional matureness seems to be completely foreign to her. I don’t know whether I am happy with either her character or how she is depicted. It is not that Catherine is playing with men – it’s rather that she can’t help herself –, but her constant “I love you” – “You disgust me” routine gets very tedious. But at least she breaks out of the traditional female role that society would love to impose on women. Her counterpart is Gilberte who patiently waits in the background and provides Jim with a back up plan. Very considerate of her! I don’t know whether the book by Henri-Pierre Roché the film is based on ends the same way, but I definitely disliked the price that Catherine had to pay for her lifestyle in Truffaut’s version. Is it supposed to be the rightful punishment for being so unconventional?
But no matter how much I disliked the character of Catherine and her fate, I loved the film. The time just flew by and I loved the experience. If you have the chance, watch the original version /with subtitles.