by Anuja Pal
Released this month to positive reviews, ‘Blue Jay’ is one of those films that you must watch if you’re one for solitude and quiet conversations.
A film about ex-lovers reuniting may not entice you immediately, but believe me when I say that 'Blue Jay' is one of the best indies I’ve seen in a while, and I’ll be rewatching this film for a number of times before, or rather, if I ever get tired of it. Written by Mark Duplass, who also plays the male lead (Jim), this film is a poignant tale that condenses the time that has passed, as two high school sweethearts reunite after twenty four years amidst the most prosaic of circumstances.
The concept of capturing natural conversation has long been tried and tested, most famously by Richard Linklater in the 'Before' trilogy, and this film does it again. Sarah Paulson, who plays Amanda, delivers an exceptionally strong performance, as does Duplass. Coming to the dialogues, you might not find any line in particular that you’d write down in your special
notebook, but what the lines are full of, is spontaneity. They are honest, and were apparently improvised a few hours prior to filming every scene. The script, or the lack of it, is what makes this film special.
The real conversations are etched in the way Jim and Amanda look at each other in many moments throughout the film, be it the hesitation when they recognize each other, the mutual comfort as they sit by a lake and eat jelly beans like the old times, or the hint of tension as they dance. "Maybe quiet is the new loud," Duplass said in an interview and this film thoroughly does justice to that statement. There is not much action and not much sound -just Jim and Amanda carrying the weight of the film, unburdening their stories while a soft piano tune intermittently plays in the background.
Shot entirely in black and white, the cinematography is simplistic and doesn’t need to be anything more than that - similar to the people that it captures. The director, Alex Lehmann (for whom Blue Jay marks his feature film debut), is also the director of photography, and has brought to life the story envisioned by Duplass. The colour in the film is the duo of Jim and Amanda itself, as we laugh along when we see them rapping and jumping on couches, cringing when they listen to old audio tapes of them kissing and feel cold comfort as the story draws to a close.
“And all the roads we have to walk are winding.” – Oasis.