I disliked Catherine in this, and I think it may be because of the over-exposure I've had to "manic pixie dream girls" in modern cinema. In the 1960s, I am sure Catherine seemed fiercely independent and genuinely unique. But nowadays I think I can only see her as a female character written by a man whose attempt at creating a free-sprited woman only made her come off as a forced caricature.
For me, Jules and Jim is one of the most effective reminders that writing and visuals are not to be considered entirely separate things. Through Truffaut's expansive use of cinematic techniques, from quick cuts to long takes, the story is given a texture and resonance that make it completely unique. Though I don't love it unreservedly, I'm certain of one thing: this is incredible cinematic storytelling.
Lately I'm revisiting Truffaut at various points in his career. I first saw most of these films while young and quick to auteur-worship. Of the four so far screened only The 400 Blows has felt worthy of the director's reputation. I suppose I once loved J&J, but last night I was struck, and vexed, by its shallowness, its reliance on cliche, and its equal remoteness from Renoir's richness and Godard's radicalism.
Still Truffaut's best. What was so impressive about this film -- which I saw when it first came out -- was that it was a "period" picture that didn't seem "period" at all. Jules, Jim and Catherine were exactly like contemporary bohemians. Hitchcock once said he disliked "period" films because "You can never imagine people goign to the bathroom." Well in this one you can definitely imagine that.
Continually a feeling of freedom, freshness and pace is in play as farce and tragedy are easily intermixed. Love rises, falls, changes and comes back again. This is not only expressed through the narrative, but through Truffaut's cinematic language that still feels so lively today.