Jules and Jim

A rocking chair has a rhythm of its own; so does Jules and Jim. Now 50 years old, François Truffaut's whirling dervish remains an ageless beauty. The film appears to us as like a specter, with a sensibility about cinematic language and sexual relations rarely seen today. A better title for this benchmark of the French New Wave might have been Breathless—an apt descriptor for the film's lyrical visual flair and whirlpool of emotions. Too bad it was already taken. Truffaut's camera not only stands with Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre), it moves with them, searching for the pair when they are lost, and opening and closing its frame as they run into and retreat from the world, even freezing it when they are smitten by the rapture their great Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) rouses in them. Like the cadences of Georges Delerue's score, Truffaut is always inquiring, using the 20-year relationship of a prickly threesome as the jumping-off point for head-spinning moral and sexual scrutiny. If Jules is the Don Quixote to Jim's Sancho Panza, then Catherine is their windmill: Always tilting toward her, the men are oblivious that she is the apotheosis of obscure objects of desire. (NR) ED GONZALEZ

Thu., March 15, 7:30 p.m., 2012

 
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