Blue Jay11 Oct 2016
Sarah Paulson is magnetic on screen in this film. She is so good at her job that it feels like she is acting just for you on screen. It’s a remarkable feat of acting, for which she deserves high praise. Mark Duplass, unfortunately, was just out-matched against an actor like her. His character, tasked with a high degree of difficulty scene near the end, was ill-matched against Paulson who accomplished similar goals with aplomb.
The movie, in all, is a simple, Linklater-esque, film about two high school sweethearts who reconnect after decades apart. They pick up where they left off, spend some lovely hours together, and dive back into old memories and old habits to remind themselves of who they once were.
On its face, this type of movie is usually unobjectionable or forgettable. We get a few of them every year. But there was something about this particular story, these particular actors, and the evocation of feeling that really struck a chord with me. I had a relationship like this in high school, a formative experience for me, that now exists as memories laden with emotion. I’ve never had the reconnecting experience the way Jim and Amanda get to experience, but the weight those memories carry weighs heavy even now, more than 10 years later. Watching those experiences get depicted on screen, often in uncannily similar ways to my own experience, took a hold of me and did not let go for the run time of this film. Again, here I must highlight how much Paulson carries this film. There are entire scenes and sequences when the camera is glued to her face and she pulls these scenes off so well. The power of acting is fully on display in her performance.
Perhaps this film resonated for me more than the average viewer because I connected with it so strongly. It left me feeling blue, thinking fondly back on old love, wishing for but also dreading ever reconnecting with my old self or with a new her. In a season marked by public tension and political drama, it was wonderful to shift my focus through a work of personal art like this. I didn’t begrudge for one second the tears flowing down my face when this film finished. I was thankful for the feeling.