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Netflix Pick: Walking in the Past in ‘Blue Jay’ (2016)

A beautiful black and white film about reliving our memories.

Blue Jay is a 2016 black & white drama about two former high school sweethearts who bump into each other years later and reflect on an unsettled past.

Today’s Netflix Pick is a pretty sharp drama from the writer of Safety Not Guaranteed. Starring Mark Duplass (the screenwriter) and Sarah Paulson, the film is a character-driven story that is as nostalgic about the past as it is about the importance of moving on. It’s Blue Jay and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay, 2016 © Duplass Brothers Productions

THE STORY: Directed by Alex Lehmann, it centers on Jim (Duplass), who comes back to his hometown after his mother passes to settle the house and property. She had kept everything as it was for over twenty years, keeping and collecting all her son’s possessions just as he left them. Jim has not completely fulfilled the promise of his youth and feels some disillusionment in the rough road his life has taken. At the town grocery store where Jim is shopping, in walks Amanda (Paulson), his high school sweetheart, a woman he has not seen since. They fumble over some words and it’s not long before they decide to catch up. A coffee turns into a long walk, and a stroll through some old haunts, and at last, back to his mother’s house where they discover his old room, filled with relics of their past. This includes old clothes, music, love letters and even recordings they made together as teenagers. As they fall back in time, they waken to the truths of the present, scarred by questions of the past.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay, 2016 © Duplass Brothers Productions

WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: Right away, whether you’re a fan of Paulson or not (and you should be) she is every reason in the book to watch this terrific little black and white experiment that might play on a familiar variation but is nonetheless so well executed and acted, it’s completely forgivable. There is a deep, lived-in quality to these two characters and for anyone old enough to be where they are, it’s impossible not to ride along with them and reflect on one’s own glory days of school, heartbreaks and all. It’s remarkably effective at drawing out old memories. While it has a few flaws, the overall experience is surprisingly touching, with a perfect, on-the-nose ending. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.

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