TIFF: Blue Jay

For 16 glorious hours, Blue Jay was my favourite movie at TIFF. Then I watched La La Land and I was in cinematic, technicolour heaven. I’ll tell anyone who will listen every single day of my life that I’m a lucky, lucky girl. Getting to watch 2 astounding, knock-your-socks-off films? Frosting on my fucking cupcake.

Blue Jay is nearly an anti-La La Land. It’s a small, quiet, black and white film that’s not destined for the Oscars, or even really theatres (a small run in LA and NY, and then Netflix by the end of the year – lucky us!). But it is superb.

bluejay_03-h_2016It stars Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson, almost exclusively. They play high school sweethearts who bump into each other 20 years later. Agony and ecstasy, right there on the screen. And heaping spoonfuls of awkwardness, don’t forget that. Because they were in luuuuurv. The real deal. And now they don’t even know each other. It reminded me of a friend who had recently posted on Facebook that it was her ex-husband’s birthday, a date she can’t help but remember even if she no longer even knows if he’s alive. Isn’t it weird that we can lose track of people who used to be our whole worlds?

For Jim and Amanda (Duplass and Paulson), once they get over their initial weirdness, it’s almost like no time has elapsed at all. They’ve both moved on, new cities, big jobs, other lovers. And yet they can pick up where they left off, the magic reappearing in an instant. It’s like opening up a dorky little hole into time and space, hurtling these two pushing-40-year-olds back to their glory days in high school, when things were light and fun, thecaa09d60-5f6f-0134-3e92-0ad17316e277 sex was hot and heavy, and Annie Lennox was everything. Jim and Amanda will take you down your own worm hole, and if you don’t end the movie thinking about your own First Love, then you my friend have a cold, cold heart.

I picked this movie on two words alone: Mark Duplass. But Sarah Paulson is luminous; she fucking shoots starlight out of her face. The two together have incredible chemistry, and it’s obvious they work-shopped their characters together to perfection – the nostalgic backstory, their lovable eccentricities, the subtle hints to what caused their demise. Duplass and Paulson each deliver career-best performances. No kidding.

If you have ever loved and lost, this movie is for you. If you didn’t marry your high school sweetheart, this movie is for you. If you married him and left him, this movie is for you. If you appreciate things like smart dialogue, meticulous observation, authentic and vulnerable performances, and little bursts of spontaneity that are pure joy on celluloid, this movie is for you.


Oh fer fuck’s sake, just see it. It’s for everybody. It’s perfect.

26 thoughts on “TIFF: Blue Jay

  1. Spoken Like A True Nut

    I still remember my first boyfriend’s birthday, but that’s because it was the same as my dog’s.

    Truthfully every time I’ve run into someone I used to date it’s been just the heaping spoonfuls of awkward, usually followed by sackfuls of awkward, sometimes even moving on to eyeing-the-nearest-exit awkward, so it’ll be nice to see a chance reunion story that doesn’t end in one or both parties preemptively blocking the other on all social media at the earliest opportunity following the meeting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jay Post author

      It doesn’t end that way but it absolutely starts that way. They have that exact same first instinct. It’s glorious (when it’s not happening to you).


    1. Jay Post author

      They’re very different. La La Land is a beautiful, crazy cinematic experience, and Blue Jay is a small, warm, emotional experience. Both have a similar thing to say about love and loss. Both are worth seeing. More than.


  2. Jay Post author

    Mark Duplass: I have two high school sweethearts. I don’t see them very often but every now and then we come across each other or hear a story about each other or, god forbid, I open up one of my fucking journals from the mid-90s. I’ll immediately make fun of myself, and then I immediately go, ‘Wait, that sort of overly confident, completely un-jaded person is somebody I really miss.’ So then I get all sad about it, and that was really what the soup of the movie was.


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