This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Mark Duplass’ new film Blue Jay.
Director:Alexandre Lehmann (as Alex Lehmann)
Stars:Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson, Clu Gulager
Blue Jay is a wonderfully sentimental story of high school sweethearts Jim (Mark Duplass) and Amanda (Sarah Paulson), who run into each other in the grocery store while visiting their hometown. Jim and Amanda get coffee and catch up after not seeing each other for 20 years. The black and white film is a nostalgic appreciation for the special incomparable thing that is a first love. But that’s all you get for a description. You need to go see it for yourself to really appreciate it.
I’ve enjoyed Mark in everything I’ve seen him in from (in his words) “this show he did”, The League to Safety Not Guaranteed. He is a really soulful actor with a tremendous range to be funny and charming or awkward and sad. Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock all year knows that Sarah Paulson is also tremendously talented. Together, the two are magic.
Mark Duplass is also an exceptional creator of story. At the screening this past weekend, he generously participated in a Q&A along with his director, Alex Lehmann. He gave insight into the process he used to make Blue Jay. As a writer, I found it interesting that Mark and his team went into production on Blue Jay with a detailed outline and no concrete script. He noted that along with his director, three female producers and his costar Sarah Paulson, there was a collaborative effort in fleshing out details for the main characters. The part of the process that I appreciated the most was the fact that everything was filmed in chronological order. Duplass and Lehmann noted that they would film a scene and then adjust the next day based on their progress. This gives Jim and Amanda’s relationship a natural progression and cadence. It also makes for a spectacular film.
The movie is held up almost entirely by Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson, with a brief appearance by Clu Gulager. You never feel lonely though. Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson fill you up and have dazzling chemistry. You’re never waiting for anyone else to show up. You never feel like anyone is missing. I like to think that the sign of a good film is when I don’t think about all the times the story could have satisfactorily ended while I’m watching it. Blue Jay is delightful. You will spend every moment trying to take in everything that Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson have to offer. You’ll find yourself thinking about all the details sprinkled throughout the story and wondering where their next chapters have in store for them.
Blue Jay will be in theaters for a limited time, but it is well worth the trip and money. It is also available on iTunes. Renting these movies / seeing them in theaters is how special small films like this get made.