Best Friend’s Girl

Three's a crowd.Perhaps you were smart, listened to your high school guidance counselor and forewent film school for a real education that resulted in a real job in the real world. Now you’ve got some real dough and can partake of the Criterion Collection’s DVD releases, all of which seem to hail from under the banner “Everything you would have seen in film school but were afraid to go.”

Slated for release at the end of this month is Francois Truffaut’s seminal nouvelle vague ode to three-way love “Jules and Jim.” The name is something of a misnomer since the titular characters comprise only two sides of the fabled love triangle, the hypotenuse of which is the comely Catherine. Played memorably by Jeanne Moreau, the character is a willful and sexy young woman caught between two men and obliged to choose just one — back in the quainter pre-sexual revolution days of 1900 when she apparently felt she had to choose just one. This is, in part, why “Jules and Jim” plays a bit like a museum piece — these days, the trio would simply bunk down together and start a website.

Originally released in 1962, Moreau’s Catherine is what psychologist Carl Jung would call an “anima projection,” alluring, fascinatingly vague and lethal. That Catherine turns the equilateral triangle obtuse when she marries Jules makes for an interesting complication that is compounded when, many years later (the film covers several decades) she’s reunited with Jim, with whom she falls in love. The end of this film still comes as a shock even after repeat viewings due to the shear audacity with which Catherine addresses the troubled troika’s star-crossed passions (she parks her car in a lake).

Packaged as a two disc set (the new, high-definition digital transfer was supervised by the original director of photography Raoul Coutard) features a raft of interviews and commentaries from seemingly everyone involved with the production except Truffaut who died in 1984. The set is loaded with archival TV footage of interviews with the director and cast as well as recently produced segments featuring Truffaut scholars discussing, well, Truffaut.

Despite the disc’s suggested retail price of $39.95, “Jules and Jim” makes a worthy addition to the library and will have you whistling The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” all the way to the video store.