I had a One That Got Away for years. In my more retrospective moments, I would think about what had happened to him, and what life would have been like if we had acted on our desires and gotten it on (We both had partners, alas. Mine was a raging fuck head).
Luckily for me, fate decided to throw me a bone and we found each other again (thank you Facebook). Now I spend my days with the One Who Came Back and I couldn’t be happier. I think what I’m trying to get at is, sometimes love and happiness has everything to do with timing, and had we got together back then, I doubt we would have what we have now, which is Heaven in two and a half rooms (thank you Chicago).
This film is about love and loss and closure and second chances and very bad rapping onto cassettes. It’s not film noir, nor is it a Christmas movie. It is hopeful and sentimental though, with a leading lady you can’t take your eyes off, so I think this pick more than holds up the ideals of this month’s theme.
Blue Jay (2016)
Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past.
Jim (Duplass) and Amanda (Paulson) were childhood sweethearts. As with many relationships of this ilk (I never had one), the couple eventually grew up, grew apart and moved on with their lives separately. A chance meeting in a supermarket in their hometown, however, brings the former lovers back together and churns up all sorts of historic emotion.
Amanda, it seems, has it all together. She’s happily married now with two step sons and an idyllic life. Jim, not so much. He’s having a hard time as he explains to Amanda, once the initial awkwardness of their meeting has subsided. He’s just lost his mum and is between jobs and places. He’s considering moving back to their tiny Californian hometown, maybe moving into his Mum’s house once he’s renovated it.
The two stop for coffee, which leads to a mini-walk down memory lane. Which leads to something much deeper – a wistful look back at the memorabilia of their old life together. At songs they loved, long discarded love letters and recorded tapes containing all their desires and dreams, a hint at what could have been and what they let go of.
When Amanda opens up about her own woes and reveals her doubts about life, it evens the playing field a little, though who’s keeping count? The question here seems to be: Are the wounds of this lost love deeper than they (and we) originally thought? Can Jim and Amanda simply go back to their lives now or is there more to be said between them?
This might be the shortest review I’ve ever posted in the Collab series but that’s because I’m being respectful of the movie. I want you to watch it.
To say this is an action packed thrill-fest would be a blatant untruth. It’s beautiful looking and very much a ‘talking’ movie with nuanced performances from two of the most current and talented actors around.
Duplass is the King of Mumblecore let us not forget and wasn’t about to crack open anything out of the ordinary for this tale. That’s not a criticism, this is Duplass at his best. The dialogue is intimate and sweet, both characters are lovely. I can’t tell you how you’ll feel about them but I flip-flopped between wanting closure for them and wanting them (Amanda) to risk it all to get back together.
What does become apparent as the film progresses is that the grown up life the lovers pictured for themselves (as teenagers they loved to pretend to be old marrieds with kids in college) became too real, too quickly and neither were ready.
Love is hard, isn’t it? It’s difficult to still love somebody but know you have to walk away. Is there ever a good enough reason to give up on the one you’re in love with? I used to think the answer was no, but sometimes you have to put other things ahead of that, even yourself.
Sometimes you make mistakes, or the wrong decision. Sometimes you say things that can never be taken back, or fail to act in the only moment that matters.
Is it too late? In the end I feel like we’re left to make up our own minds about what happens next and I still don’t know what’s best for them. I just know what I want.
Ps. The last thing I saw Duplass in was Creep (for the second time), and I thought I might never be able to watch him in anything ever again. I was wrong, he’s adorable.
My Rating: 4.5/5. Dreamy. Sad though and it might make you think about past relationships (this is not a problem for me as I haven’t got any really great ones to ruminate upon, just car crashes). It will most likely also make you really want to be best friends with the smiliest woman on the planet, Ms Paulson. Seriously, she’s perfect.
What did Wifey think? Did she think it was as whack as Amanda’s white girl rhymes, or as lustrous as Jim’s beard? Find out here. ❤