What to Drink While Watching “Jules et Jim”


Heen says: This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. When I wrote about the “Making Of” of films, I mentioned “La nuit américain” by Truffaut and that got me thinking about “Jules et Jim”, one of those films that always gets a mention in weighty discussions about how film reflects life but can maintain its artistic stature. The “amorous triangle” has never been better reflected on film, I’d say, and I think most film critics would agree with me, especially if they’re French.


For the benefit of those with a dodgy memory, or those of you too young to have got round to seeing this gem, allow me to synopsise this film in one sentence. Catherine marries Jules and then falls in love with his friend Jim. There, that didn’t hurt, did it.


Younger viewers may be put off by the facts that this film was made in black and white, they speak French, and Jeanne Moreau looks alarmingly like Britney Spears. (Am I the only person to have noticed this last point? The resemblance is uncanny. I keep expecting Catherine to say “Hit me baby one more time”.)


Jules and Jim have the sort of friendship that only exists in films and literature, as far as I know. Not only have I never met my Jim, I know I’d make a useless Jules, or vice versa. And I’ve known several (heterosexual) men who have a “special” friendship with another man, but never to the point that they would knowingly and willingly share the woman they both love. Maybe I’ve just had a sheltered life, I don’t know. Perhaps this kind of relationship is more common among women… I can almost imagine it, or maybe it’s just some kind of sexual fantasy I would like to embark upon, me being the apex of the triangle, of course.


I’m not in a relationship at the moment. Many moons ago, I lived through the triangle thing, when my girlfriend (let’s call her Minerva) started going out with a friend from work (let’s call him Alberto), first behind my back then in my face. I knew Alberto quite well, and had a very low opinion of him. I just couldn’t understand what Minerva saw in Alberto. He was overweight and balding, for a start, and had no sense of humour and very limited intelligence. When his thing with Minerva took off, he started to grow a pony tail, presumably thinking she’d like it; I thought, “Right, that’s it, Minerva will definitely see this guy is a complete jerk and dump him” but, incredibly, she thought it was a sign that he was doing something to please her, and even dared to suggest that I should do the same.


On the few occasions we coincided, I did my utmost to show up Alberto’s cretinism and, to a impartial observer, I’m sure I succeeded, but it only made matters worse. Minerva invariably sided with this moron and accuse me of “being horrid” to him. Well of course I was being horrid to him. That was the whole point. Couldn’t she see Alberto was a vastly inferior being who should have been put down at birth?


No, she couldn’t. Within months they were married, and had an extremely ugly daughter (let’s call her Paula). Alberto had the gall to invite me to the christening. I took the opportunity to get violently drunk, needless to say. I made a fool of myself by throwing up in the font, accusing the priest of being a Nazi, and pleading tearfully with Minerva to take me back. Hit me baby one more time.


That was a long time ago. I’ve forgiven Minerva and Alberto, or is that “forgotten”? Maybe it comes to the same thing. I doubt they’ve forgiven me and, to be honest, I don’t really care. I certainly don’t want them to forget me, well, not Minerva, anyway.


Sometimes when I see a 20-year-old girl with long brown hair, big sunglasses, a white blouse, jeans and red patent leather high heels, I get a sort of sweet shudder, even now.


Share her? Jules and Jim? Beam me up, Scotty.




Sheen says: Heen has never got over Minerva. He’s absolutely right about Alberto, by the way – what an oaf! Minerva was a cool customer, she messed with Heen knowing full well he wasn’t going to be able to take it, even to the point that I wondered if she started going out with Alberto just to wind Heen up, to see how he’d react, enjoying his pain and laughing at his pathetic reaction.


But that’s not what I’ve come here to write. This category is called “The Movie and the Beverage” and I feel we have seriously neglected the issue of drinking.


It’s hard for me to imagine what I would have drunk if I had been around when “Jules et Jim” was released. That was 1961, for God’s sake. I would have had to drink Scotch or something.


Let’s imagine “Jules et Jim” was made today. Jules would be played by hmmm… let me see… Jude Law. Jim would be…. hmmm…. Johnny Depp. And Catherine would be… not too sure about this… Reese Witherspoon. Maybe Julia Stiles? No, let’s stick with Reese. (By the way, it’s true what Heen says about Britney Spears looking like Jeanne Moreau. Jude Law doesn’t look anything like Oskar Werner and Johnny Depp doesn’t look anything like Henri Serre, equally by the way.)


Instead of locating the film in the French countryside, let’s move to Madrid, for example. I can imagine Jude, Johnny and Reese getting it on in the Retiro, in the Plaza Mayor, in those foul salsa nightclubs on the outskirts. Jules would have a flat in Lavapiés, Jim would live in the Barrio del Pilar. They’d drink Red Bull and vodka, smoke Fortuna and eat pinchos de tortilla at El Diamante and occasionally dine at the Thai Gardens. There’d be quite a few cañas of beer in the film, and the odd bottle of Ribera del Duero (I can’t see Jude Law drinking Rioja).


So, depending on who you identify with, you should drink either Red Bull and vodka (Reese/Catherine/Jeanne), beer (Jude/Jules/Oskar) or beer (Johnny/Jim/Henri) while watching this film. If you see yourself as Catherine, perhaps you should sip beer and wine alternatively and make your mind up once and for all, you naughty girl.


A toast to all of you, mes amis, triangular, square or circular.

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