Blue Jay is a short and sweet love story that depicts thirty-somethings Jim and Amanda, old flames who have, after many years, bumped into each other in a supermarket in their hometown. It follows them over the course of one night whilst they explore old memories and their past lives together whilst sharing new ones. Jim, played by Mark Duplass (who also wrote the film), is an unemployed handyman who has come back to his hometown whilst he figures out the next stage in his life. Amanda, played by American Horror Story‘s Sarah Paulson, is married to a much older man and step-mother to two boys only half her age, and is back in town to visit her pregnant sister.
After an awkward encounter in the supermarket, it doesn’t take long for Jim and Amanda’s chemistry to shine through with small talk being put on the back-burner and playfulness coming into the limelight, like they have never been apart. The night progresses as does their realisations of their feelings towards each other, and their regrets.
Shot in black and white, Blue Jay is a simple but effective love story which can only resonate with one’s own life. Duplass and Paulson expertly portray the normality of life and the silliness in us all. Things that we wouldn’t normally find funny in bigger budget films are in this because they are moments like we all share with our own loved ones. They relive the fun times they used to have, something we all wish we can do when life becomes mundane, or if things aren’t quite going the way we want them to.
But as the film progresses, the darker side of their relationships and lives come forward and hit us hard. Where it is essentially a love story which isn’t glossed over by the hand of Hollywood, it really plays on our emotions of the process of growing up – the fun memories we have as young adults, the care-free nature of our lives and wishing we could just go back for one day to escape the difficulties of adulthood, whether it be pure mundanity or issues with work, money, death or the breakdown of relationships. Despite Amanda being married, we want her to rekindle her romance with Jim because all we can see is how perfect for each other they are, and we are left pondering throughout the film – how did they ever move apart? The answer is revealed expertly and emotionally in the final moments of the film.
With similarities to other love stories like the Before trilogy by Richard Linklater, and Blue Valentine by Derek Cianfrance, this is a film to make us, as an audience, think about our own lives and whether we have taken the right path. It can cause reality to sink in a bit too much – however a film made with realism in mind can’t succeed without really making it’s audience question themselves too.
Overall, we give this film a solid 5 stars. If you want something that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you feel nostalgic and at home, Blue Jay is the perfect solution.
Get a feel for the film by watching the trailer below. Blue Jay is streaming on Netflix now.