Casablanca’s reputation has endured for nearly 80 years because, rather than Rick and Ilsa getting back together at the end, he helps her leave with Victor, giving it a bittersweet complexity that still feels relatable. In The Graduate, while Benjamin is able to stop Elaine’s marriage, the final shot of them looking towards their uncertain future adds a poignancy that means its ending is still debated to this day. Even the death of Jack at the end of Titanic instantly added extra weight to his love story with Rose, and helped to prove that, despite it being fleeting, they were meant to be together.
Jules and Jim’s influence can also be seen in films like Y Tu Mamá También, The Dreamers and Les Valseuses, to name but a few. The major difference is that these films explore the sexuality of its characters in a much more explicit manner. The purpose of their sex scenes, though, is to signal that its participants are either at, or are quickly approaching, their nadir.
“In film and TV, it’s now not transgressive for characters to have sex out of wedlock or have affairs. These barriers have been broken. But, for whatever reason, the one for [threesomes] has maintained as firmly as ever,” says Meek. “Ultimately it is not seen as the sustainable solution for a relationship. It might be shown in some kind of positive light for a while. But it is more often shown as a spiral into something much more disturbing.”
In Y Tu Mamá También, after the tryst between Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), Tenoch (Diego Luna), and Luisa (Maribel Verdu), the two male friends, who’d previously boasted about their sexual exploits throughout the film, never speak to each other again. At the end of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, Isabelle (Eva Green) becomes so distressed that she is sharing her lover Matthew (Michael Pitt) with her brother Theo (Louis Garrel) that she attempts to kill the three of them. Meanwhile, Les Valseuses sees Moreau star as a woman just released from jail, who partakes in a three-way love scene with Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere’s petty criminals.