The Duplass brothers are a special type of genius, people might criticize them for following the same routine over a decade, but the truth of the matter is that these guys are form part of the founding father of mumblecore cinema and continue to expand its message to this day. And surely they’ve continued to explore the same themes and ideas that unite mumblecore cinema, but as the years have gone by they’ve begun to experiment with the genre, taking it somewhere new with each film. As for Blue Jay, this is a more clear-cut mumblecore film and besides the fact that its in black and white its still a film based on the use of improvisational dialogue that deals with the dilemmas of romance and a protagonist in his forties that’s just aimlessly moving through life.
The use of black and white in Blue Jay is a very distinct choice as it isn’t done as a way of cheapening the budget considering you can record a film on your phone these days and it isn’t done to try and hearken back to an era long gone, instead the use of black and white boils down to tone. The relationship between tone and camera is entirely present as cinematographer/director/writer Alexandre Lehmann slowly displays images of solitude in black and white towards the beginning of the film. I don’t want to spoil anything about the film, but I will say it does go to some very emotional places, and by saying that I don’t mean its utterly gloomy and depressing, but rather that it shows a strong display of emotions. Whether those emotions are love, happiness or angst, they’re all presented in an extremely naturalistic light that is amplified by the relation between the tone and the camera.
Mumblecore cinema is know for a very naturalistic and reactionary type of acting, which obviously differs to that of your typical Hollywood blockbuster. And with Blue Jay we also have our principal characters in a very special encounter and the way both Duplass and Paulson are able to demonstrate such heartfelt emotion on an improvisational level is just ludicrous. They’re absurdly magnificent in capturing the unfulfillment of youthful dreams in an adult, presenting us with some of the best on-screen chemistry of the year and truly stupendous work as actors. They’re work as actors is honest and emotional, shedding light on the raw nature of love. Duplass, as we’ve come to expect is always great, the wild card here would be Sarah Paulson who I don’t recall ever working on a type of film like this before. Being honest, I think she might be even better at tapping into the improvisational honesty that a mumblecore film requires, she’s incredibly talent and has a glowing presence that transcends the black and white film she’s being filmed on. If you don’t believe me, even Duplass himself has said in a beautiful For Your Consideration letter he wrote about her.
Blue Jay is an emotionally resonant film that uses tonality in order to express a grand range of emotions. Alexandre Lehmann does a great job in capturing the honesty of love, both the horror and the happiness that comes with it. Duplass and Paulson are magnificent together, crafting one of the most beautiful on-screen relationships I’ve seen on film this year. As a whole, Blue Jay is a beautifully haunting look at unfulfilled promises of youth that provides us with some great acting and directing, garnering another good film to the Duplass brothers’ already excellent résumé.