Inside Film

Emily in Paris is right – Jules et Jim is chic and glamorous but a tragedy in disguise

Ahead of its cinematic re-release and a Francois Truffaut season at the BFI, ‘Jules et Jim’ is coincidentally being probed for meaning by the star of Netflix’s most polarising hit. But while Lily Collins’s plucky fashionista isn’t France’s sharpest movie critic, she does have a point, writes Geoffrey Macnab

Friday 31 December 2021 00:15
<p>Jeanne Moreau in Francois Truffaut’s ‘Jules et Jim'</p>

Jeanne Moreau in Francois Truffaut’s ‘Jules et Jim'

If you’re a fashion-conscious young American woman in Paris with a complicated love life and a desire to improve your French, the best movie to watch is definitely Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962). This is what Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) discovers in a recent episode of the Netflix series Emily in Paris. She watches the film shortly after sleeping with the improbably handsome chef Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), and the boyfriend of her best friend Camille (Camille Razat). It’s then no surprise that Truffaut’s dissection of an amour a trois – which she sees at the filmmaker’s favourite Paris cinema, Le Champo – has an added resonance for her. Not that Emily is entirely won over. She likes the film but is frustrated by some of its plot twists, and can’t understand why it has to end on such a downbeat and morbid note.

Emily is entranced by the performance of Jeanne Moreau as Catherine, the woman adored by both Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre). She is startled by the daring of a film in which everyone seems so untouched by jealousy that Jim can sit reading while, a couple of floors above him, the woman he loves is in bed with his best friend.

In tandem with its 60th anniversary, Jules et Jim will be re-released in UK cinemas this February as one of the centrepieces of the British Film Institute’s two-month Truffaut season. It’s a measure of the film’s enduring appeal that it features so prominently in a show like Emily in Paris, which has divided critics and is loved and loathed in equal measure for its depiction of modern-day Gallic life.

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