Having recently delved into the cinematic year of wonder that is 1961, it was an easy selection to include the emotive turn from Jeanne Moreau from La Notte in my Actress Lead shortlist. In the same year the French actress made a cheeky cameo in Jean-Luc Godard’s Une Femme est une femme as Jean-Paul Belmondo simply asks her how it’s going with Jules et Jim. Moderato, Moreau responds. A subtle understatement if ever I heard one.
I can think back to my earliest memories of Jules et Jim, back when I perhaps couldn’t fully grasp the kind of bond the two male characters had, or when I was unsure how to pronounce (or spell) the name of director François Truffaut, and growing up to the prospect of perhaps meeting someone as hypnotic and fickle as Catherine. A unquestionable element of what makes Jules et Jim a genuinely great, no matter how many times I have re-watched it, is that Jules and Jim (no offense at all Oskar Werner and Henri Serre) are not the focus of the movie – Catherine is.
Audacious, magnetic, temperamental, the legendary Jeanne Moreau is bewitching beyond comprehension in her many guises here, I’ve fallen in love with Catherine over and over. And Moreau. The camera follows her and sticks to her like glue. Jeanne has long since earned the mantra iconic and the loving cliche that there is nobody quite like her. This loss is a sad one indeed, but a somber reminder of her enormous screen presence and my life-long affection of cinema.
Au revoir, Mademoiselle Moreau, je t’aime.