The film won the Grand Prix (predecessor to the Palme d’Or) at Cannes, and is often included on lists of the best movies of all times. It’s inspired generations of filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, who specifically hailed it as a precursor of the riveting pace of Goodfellas. In a gushing review, Roger Ebert wrote, “Jules and Jim was perhaps the most influential and arguably the best of (the French New Wave’s) first astonishing films that broke with the past. There is joy in the filmmaking that feels fresh today and felt audacious at the time.” Indeed, it still feels like cutting-edge art, despite being more than 50 years old and in black and white. And not just stylistically. Even though the story is set in the early 20th Century, and the film came out a few years before the sexual revolution of the late 1960s, the tragic romance feels contemporary, and infidelity abounds. Catherine is as liberated and self-assured as any character who might grace the screen today, in many ways even more so. And that’s what makes this film a true classic, its timelessness. In another fifty years, Jules and Jim will no doubt be as poignant as it was when it came out, and as it is now.
- Joe Miller