Jim (Mark Duplass) and Amanda (Sarah Paulson) were childhood sweethearts who drifted apart over the years in Blue Jay, directed by Alex Lehmann and written by Duplass. The two run into each other one day, now adults, as she’s returning to the small California town where he too is back for his own reasons.
The two start hanging out and spending the day together. Amanda wants to go back to Jim’s family’s house so they go and wind up sifting through the memories that have long been buried or forgotten. That makes them both laugh and cry and deal with emotions that have either faded or become more acute with the passage of time. Amanda is married but Jim is not, adding another odd dimension to their relationship. But it’s clear the two still have a unique chemistry, even after all this time.
The first poster sells the movie as a love story, pure and simple. Paulson and Duplass are shown cozying up to each other, their faces close together as if they’re coming in for a kiss, the image tinted a slight shade of blue to go with the title branding. What’s interesting here is that Paulson’s face is much more noticeable than Duplass’s, likely because of her increased profile in the wake of not just “American Horror Story” but especially a renowned turn in the O.J. Simpson TV miniseries where she played prosecutor Marcia Clark.
When the first trailer starts we see Jim and Amanda meeting in a grocery store. Through their interactions with others we quickly see there’s history there, with a store clerk referring to them as the “famous lovebirds.” After their initial meeting they start just walking around hanging out, going out for coffee and drinking beer back at his house. They start off along the lake but once they wind up back at his place they start going deep into nostalgia, playing old tapes of themselves they used to make, dancing to old-school hip-hop and more. It’s all tinged by the fact that she’s married while he is not, so this memory-driven flirtation may end up being painful for one or both of them.
It likely goes without saying, but both Duplass and Paulson look great here. They both look like they put in emotional performances that go into some deep territory. There’s great chemistry between the two and, unsurprisingly, the dialogue rings honest and true.
Online and Social
This is coming from both The Orchard and Netflix, two companies not known for their website building. So there doesn’t appear to be any site for the movie, nor are there any social networks dedicated to it. There doesn’t even appear to have been much support on either company’s social channels, with The Orchard focused on their music clients and Netflix busy talking about “Gilmore Girls.”
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Media and Publicity
The movie had its official debut at the Toronto International Film Festival where it got decent reviews and where Duplass and Paulson talked about the characters, the process of making it and more.
Director Lehmann talked here about making the movie, including the choice to shoot in black-and-white, working with Duplass on multiple levels and more. And Duplass later admitted that there were a lot of potential potholes in the situation but that it all came down to his chemistry with Paulson to make it work.
The campaign seems to admit that there’s going to be limited appeal for the movie. No big press push, no advertising and no web presence all speak to the fact that this is seen (rightly) as a small movie that’s going to be attractive to a small audience. Again, the small scale isn’t unusual for releases from either The Orchard or Netflix and when you add in that it’s a black and white movie with very little plot, no action and a couple of good actors who aren’t box-office draws, it’s all understandable.
But while it’s a small campaign it presents a solid viewing choice for the small audience that might come across it. As has become perfectly clear, both Duplass and Paulson have great reputations among those who have discovered their work and the campaign puts them both front and center. It’s all about selling an unusual, unique movie for those looking for either the big, effects-laden blockbusters or this season’s “important” movies hitting theaters during awards season. If you’re a fan of Duplass and/or Paulson, this will be right up your alley.
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