I thought Jules and Jim (1962) was a very strange film, and I didn’t like it that much. However, it did manage to make me think quite a bit. The first thing that I found completely foreign was the style of the French New Wave. All of the jarring edits and freeze frames jerk you out of the film. Truffaut makes you realize that you are watching a movie, by not allowing you to become lost within the story. I had never seen a film put together like this before. I can appreciate all the techniques that were used, but I didn’t really like the style at all. I think part of the magic of movies is to be transported to a different time and place through the screen.
Catherine is the original “manic pixie dream girl.” She is the first cool female character that we have seen this semester. She’s not cool because she takes on typically male characteristics, such as dominance, but because she has complete freedom from gender stereotypes and pre-conceptions. Catherine’s coolest moment is when she races Jules and Jim across the bridge. In that perfect moment she is cool because she is free, spontaneous, and just living in the moment. I don’t think her cool in that moment has anything to do with the fact that she was dressed like a man. Later in the film when Catherine is shown knitting with her daughter, she loses her cool because she is fulfilling the traditional gender role of women. When she shows her dominance over Jules, by repeatedly cheating on him, she starts to fulfill a typically masculine role. I don’t find her cool in that sense either. She is only cool in the moments of complete spontaneity.
Since Catherine is only cool in brief moments, this film made me wonder if it is possible to make cool last. In nearly all of the movies we’ve watched, it seems that at least one character has lost cool by the end. Cool seems to happen in perfect ephemeral moments, for example when Rick says, “Here’s looking at you, kid” in Casablanca. In our first class, we discussed that dissident cool could never be lasting, but that transcendent cool could be. Noir, criminality, imitation, and even the cool that Catherine gains from breaking out of the constraints of gender roles are all forms of dissident cool. Rick’s cool sacrifice seems to be lasting because it’s an example of transcendent cool. Or could it be because it occurs at the end of the movie and that is the lasting impression that we have of him?