Review: Blue Jay

Score: A-

Director: Alex Lehmann

Cast: Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson, Clu Gulager

Running Time: 80 Minutes

Rated: NR

I will admit that I am a sucker for movies in which attractive couples have long conversations in beautiful locales the whole time. The Before films are the best saga of all time and Certified Copy is one of the most lovely and thoughtful movies of recent years. So unsurprisingly, I adored Blue Jay, which features only Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass for a majority of the running time.

Sarah Paulson – so damn good in this year's The People v. O.J. Simpson miniseries – stars as Amanda, a married mother of two who bumps into Jim – Mark Duplass, never better – her old high school sweetheart. They spend the rest of the day talking, about their lives, their struggles and their memories. There's even a dance to a mid-'90s power ballad, though one of the movies many pleasures is that it's not the one you'd expect. This is a movie that has a way of sneaking up on you.

So no, there's nothing more to it than lots of dialogue. But what makes Blue Jay so memorable are its two leads. There's an undeniable spark between them, and they both play their mix of hesitancy and eagerness just right. Even though it's not as graceful as Richard Linklater's films or as reality-obliterating as Certified Copy, there's a rare honesty on display.

A late-act reveal exposes deep wounds that both thought were long buried. Their break-up was more than just drifting apart that happens to many teenage couples. There's real sorrow, even though the movie is mostly filled with joy – about the possibility of a second chance, of a genuine connection, of an escape from the mundane and the unknown.

While it does feature some devastating moments, Blue Jay is a lovely, melancholy film that lets its two leads carry us away.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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