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Blue Jay (2016)
Written by Mark Duplass
Directed by Alex Lehmann

About the movie:

Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past. The film marked the Duplass Brothers’ first film under their four-picture deal with Netflix. Netflix financed the film without seeing a script, but just reading a 10-page outline of the story. This allowed for a true independent film experience.

The film had no script. The actors were given a summary of the movie and their characters and the rest was improvisation.

Blue Jay was the first feature film for director Alex Lehmann. He also served as the director of photography and cinematographer of the film.

The film was shot over the course of seven days in and around Crestline, California. It was filmed on a canon camera without built-in recording or built-in power source.

The film’s score was composed by Julian Wass.

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My Thoughts:

Nostalgia has plot holes, but oh how I have such a soft spot for it. How many times have I thought about what it would be like to run into a past love, to have a day to spend together, to talk and re-connect, and share a moment again. Not just any past love, but one that mattered, one that had real significance. But, given that opportunity, is it not potentially loaded with emotional landmines that can, or most likely will, go off unexpectedly?

This movie hit very hard. I had a nostalgia reuniting situation recently, and it was full of wonder and magic and passion, and a hell of a lot of landmines that all went off eventually. Would I do it again? Yes. Would these two characters do it again? Yes, I think they would.

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This film reminded me at times of the second installment in Richard Linklater/Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy’s “Before” series, as well as Graham Greene’s book, “The End of the Affair”. The former because of the reconnecting of past lovers, and the day spent together, though to me “Blue Jay” had more hope and joy to it, even in the sad moments, than “Before Sunset” did. The latter (“The End of the Affair”) in the reveal that what you assume, and what you decide to say, is not always what you want, or mean. I do not want to spoil anything, but there is a moment where you see that things that happened, and things said, were not as true as they seemed at the time.

Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass are two favorite actors of mine, and they were brilliant in this. They had chemistry and ease and emotional deft that brought these characters immediately to life for me, and also pulled my heart around for the entirety of their day/night together. I felt so much watching this film. I laughed, I cheered, I sang-a-long, I hurt, I cried — a lot, and I felt — a lot, too.


I think what hit me the most was how lost Amanda seemed to be, in her life, and in herself. Jim is lost, too, but he seemed more cognizant of it, more recently aware. But, I felt like it was all hitting Amanda. Maybe seeing Jim joggled some of that in her; the experience of hearing her voice on the tape, coming head on with her younger self, as well as her first love. That resonated with me as I find myself wrestling with my own lost self, and traversing my way through it.

I loved the way these two connected to music in this, and how music played a part in their relationship, and their meeting up again moments. I love the black-and-white filming of it, the way it added to the starkness of winter in this small town, and the bleakness of being lost and being back home again. And, I loved both of these characters so much. When the movie ended I wanted so much more, but at the same time was good with where they left it.

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This is definitely a movie to be added to my all-time favorites list.

“No More I Love You’s” scene

6 thoughts on “Blue Jay (2016) :: Monday Movies

  1. Love this movie too, especially the last scene when Amanda was laughing and crying at the same time. I actually saw Amanda as unhappy and hiding in her life. She was living the life her husband wanted. She didn’t seem happy at all. It as if this time with Jim made her realize what she was missing in her life. The film was real, emotional, happy, sad and reflecting all the imperfections that occur between two people who can reconnect yet still be disconnected. The ending was beautiful. I loved the fact that it was open ended. Sarah Paulson was amazing and so was Mark Duplass. As I was watching this, I had The Beatles Blue Jay Way in my head. It kinda fits and yet it doesn’t.


    1. Yes, that is what I was leaning towards, without giving too much away. I think that completely about Amanda, and that her time reconnecting with Jim really made her realize all of it – how lost she is, what she was missing, etc.

      Mark and Sarah were amazing in this.

      I can see that Beatles’ song connection, too…fits and doesn’t, in the best way.


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