Alex Lehmann and Mark Duplass‘s Blue Jay (The Orchard, 10.7), which I saw at the Toronto Film Festival, is an affecting relationship piece about a pair of former high-school lovers (Duplass, Sarah Paulson) re-igniting when they run into each other in their hometown. It explores the usual stuff — changes, regrets, old longings — with delicacy, and the black-and-white cinematography (Lehmann served as his own dp) is a nice touch. But the story is familiar. There might be a little of the old spark still going on and maybe one of the parties is hurt by how it all ended 12 years ago, but you can’t go home again. I think we all know that and so, decent as Blue Jay is on its own terms, I was less than fully intrigued.
You know what hasn’t been seen before? What would be a little different? If a guy and a girl who knew each other in high school but were never romantically linked meet near their old hometown, and the woman, we learn, is about to get married in a week or so. Great guy, big wedding, all the trimmings. And they talk all about their lives and go for drinks and dinner and maybe get into an adventure or two, and an attraction takes hold and they wind up going to his hotel room. The sex is gymnastic, gasping, religious. The next morning they realize they really like each other and that in another realm this might be the start of something awesome, but not this time. With more than a little sadness she shakes it off and kisses him goodbye in a parking lot and that’s that, and then he goes back to his okay but somewhat lonely life.
This happened to me twice. Once with a high-school girlfriend, Claire, who was only two or three days away from getting married. As far as I could tell she had figured it was now or never or, you know, better now with an ex-boyfriend than after she’s said her vows, and so I got lucky. The second time it was with the daughter of a woman I was renting a room from during the weekdays. She was also close to getting married. I forget the particulars but we had to keep quiet for fear of waking her mother. A voice was telling me that I probably wouldn’t have gotten lucky if the daughter hadn’t been engaged. The vibe around the breakfast table the next morning was…well, you could cut it with a butter knife.