Jules and Jim vs. Red Blend

“And Jules? He loves us both. He won’t be surprised and so he’ll suffer less. We’ll love and respect him.“-François Truffaut, Jules and Jim

(SPOILERS)

(My) Wine Thoughts: My first thoughts were, wow great marketing they could have created a sleezy wine label and instead made a very cute one. My second thought was, “uh oh, it smells like the Coppola Cab I hated.” Boy was I wrong. This tasted great like ripe cherry. It was so smooth, soft and approachable. I didn’t grimace from the acid and it wasn’t saccharine sweet.  4 Stars

(My) Movie Thoughts: When I first saw Jules and Jim I was awestruck by how it was both a time capsule and a time machine. There are moments where you find yourself surprised at its progressiveness and then some truly painful 1960s moments. I had just gotten into French New Wave cinema and had seen a few of Truffaut’s other films. None of his other movies have sit with me the way that Jules and Jim did. It wasn’t just that the film dealt with taboo topics such as mental illness, gender stereotypes, adultery and polyamory but, that it very sweetly depicted a devoted platonic love between two men, which you rarely see in film. The story begins in early 20th century Paris, Jules and Jim meet in their early twenties, bond instantly and spend most of their time together. Jules is Austrian, gentle, talkative and a dreamer and Jim is French, introverted, more brash and grounded. Both have short lived affairs with women but their friendship remains the deepest bond they have. The two friends are then introduced to Catherine and their lives are changed forever. Catherine is beautiful, intelligent, fearless and completely unstable (most likely bipolar and borderline). Both men are enchanted by her but, Jules calls dibs and Jim backs off. The three of them create a bond and embark on many local adventures-i.e. The pair play an audience to Catherine’s hijinks as she races them across a bridge in drag and jumps into the Seine to prove a point. What’s so progressive of this interaction is that Catherine’s character is unconforming to gender stereotypes. She’s loud, argumentative, bawdy and has racked up more partners than both men combined. Both men are terrified and mesmerized by her otherness. Will pointed out that Catherine is the o.g. Manic Pixie Dream Girl. While I don’t completely disagree, I think she has more depth and agency than that archetype usually brings. Jules marries Catherine and Jim begins seeing Gilberte (who is needy, boring and a female stereotype). The war breaks out and the men find themselves on opposite sides. There’s this extremely touching moment in the movie where one of the men says that his worst fear during wartime is that he’ll accidentally kill the other. Both survive and reconnect years later. Jules lives with Catherine and their daughter Sabine in the country. Jim visits Jules and Catherine, expecting marital bliss but sees that Jules is miserable. While Jules is still hopelessly in love with Catherine, he can’t handle her instability, temper and the string of lovers that she parades in front of him. He tells Jim that she has left for long periods of time and has threatened to take his daughter away. Somehow, Jim also finds that despite her behavior, he still has feelings for Catherine (he’s bored of stability with Gilberte).The two flirt within earshot of Jules. Noticing their chemistry, Jules tells Jim that he should become her lover. He admits that while their marriage is a joke, he would do anything to keep her from leaving. Jim and Catherine begin an affair. It is passionate and they fall deeply in love, try to have kids and plan on getting married. Jim begins to see how not cute mental illness really is. This continues until they both cheat on one another and Catherine pulls a gun on him. Jim tells Jules he can’t do it anyone and resolves to marry Gilberte. At this point their friendship in tatters, but they still love one another. Jim runs into Jules and Catherine in the city, some years later and they plan to catch up. Catherine isolates Jim in her car under the false pretense of needing to talk to him and tells Jim to “watch them”. Catherine murders Jim and simultaneously commits suicide by driving her car off a nearby bridge. Jules watches as they sink into the water. The last scene is Jules taking care of funerary arrangements. How can you not feel devastated? So many feels. 4.5 Stars

(My) Comparison: Three components create the red blend wine. Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (hence the overly literal name). This blend of is harmonious and smooth . In Jules and Jim, Catherine, Jules and Jim come together in their lives and form a loving union that begins as friendship and evolves into platonic and romantic love. But unlike the plot of Jules and Jim, the red blend stayed harmonious and pleasant to the last drop (I know I probably shouldn’t drink as I’m still not 100% recovered, but I couldn’t help it and it was a small glass). Please humor me while I rationalize my guilt.

(My) My Weekly Winner: It was very close for me but ultimately my pick of the week is Jules and Jim. As delicious as the wine is, I felt nourished by the depth of human experience and character development in Jules and Jim. Can’t beat that!

(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Two Bordeaux varietals living in harmony, a classic marriage, an ideal pairing, sharing a room with what was once considered to be a true original American grape. Zinfandel has it’s origins in Croatia. Introduced to America in the mid 1800’s, it’s a grape that grabs your tongue by the collar and punches it in the face with spicy alcohol and deep jammy fruit flavors. No wonder it was considered to be the American grape, it finds a spot it likes and fights you for it saying, ‘hey, this is my territory now.’ In this case when the three grapes are put together…I really don’t have too many complaints! On the nose: blackberries, cream soda, burnt brown sugar. I think I’ve said this before but it smells JUST like Pepsi. And I love Pepsi.  

I would like to mention one thing, I happen to have the hilariously privileged job of tasting and pouring wine for a living. I am 100% not used to how intensely sweet these wines have been. Higher volume production wines seem to be produced for a very specific palate. And, gosh I hate to play the part of the wine snob, I don’t think it’s my palate. On the palate: softer acidity, full body, very rich charleston chew thing going on, very decadent, the Cabernet Sauvignon shows through pretty strong with the herbal, pepper flavors but the dominant trait is that jammy sweet Zinfandel. It’s almost like a chocolate krispy kreme doughnut. The Merlot is definitely present with its tobacco and vanilla traits but, much like Jim, it is dominated and controlled, even overpowered by the invasive Zinfandel.

This wine is buying me all the nice things like expensive chocolates and caviar. It really wants to get in my pants. This is the poster wine for one night stands. It just tastes so sexy and all of it’s wrongs are so right. I feel ashamed having consumed it, but I’m not disappointed.  4/5 Stars

JulesetJim(W’s) Movie Thoughts: It’s 2017. We expect to be blind sided by plot twists and The Departed (2006) style endings, don’t we? It was unexpected when Leo died in Titanic (1997), Rogue One (2016) has a jaw dropping ending and The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones (2011) is perhaps the single most devastating moment of 21st century television. It’s a common practice to ‘one up’ last years cliffhanger ending, or out to try and do the latest ‘OMG’ moment. However if we rewind to France in the 1960’s we encounter cinema that showcases drama in a far more organic and realistic nature. Case in point: Jules and Jim. The film is a perfect example of The French New Wave. An informal movement in cinema which is classified by low budget, less technical, disjointed, realistic and simple narratives. Basically taking cinema lemons and making cinematic lemonade. In short: two instantly bonded friends connect at the hip and survive one night stands, war and casual disagreements only to end up in a friendship that you and I would be lucky to have. In all honesty my partner summarized the film better than the IMDB page so I trust you have a general understanding of the movie thus far. The relationship between the two male leads, as my partner put it, in its honesty and straightforwardness, is a rare thing to see. Barely 5 minutes in and I was enamored at how real their platonic love was. Enter: Catherine. She is the bull of their china shop. I haven’t found myself invested in characters like this is years. And to have it all unfold in such a senseless way was equally awful and really impressive. Can you say masochism? After the credits rolled all I could think about, even through the next day, was how incredibly and impressively tragic the ending was. This was a viewing experience I have not had in a long time. Enjoying classic cinema and being devastated at the same time? All the while a little drunk as well? 5/5 Stars  

(W’s) Comparison: Equally surprising in every way. It’s nice to revisit my film school roots and be pleasantly surprised by how the third film of Truffaut’s prolific career comes across as a masterclass in making something larger than life out of something very low budget. It holds up very well and delivers its final, and in my opinion very unexpected, ‘OMG’ moment in gut wrenching way. I was also very pleased to be able to enjoy a bottle of wine with my other half. It is quite rare that we agree on wine. This is certainly a bottle we will revisit. And not just because of it’s affordability. All around, nice examples of what living on a budget can do for you.

(W’s) Weekly Winner: Jules and Jim. Not the movie, but the friends. Although the movie was a close second.

The weekly winner is Jules and Jim!

Salud!

Citations:
Folie A Deux Menage A Trois Rouge 2015, California
Jules et Jim. Dir. François Truffaut. Cinédis, Gala & Janus Films, 1962. Film.

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