Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blue Valentine [2010]

The story of a couple falling out of love as juxtaposed to how they fell in love.

This movie hit me like an emotional wrecking ball – it was powerful in both story and performance. It was very voyeuristic – as the narrative was unfolding more as the characters blossomed as opposed to a very clear point A to point B story. The story was told from present day where Dean and Cindy are on the rocks – and in flashbacks of how they met and fell in love.

It was both equally heartwarming and heartbreaking – very much rooted in the visceral emotional journey of the characters. The performances were incredibly gutsy – both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams felt as though they were living out their lives in sorts in front of the camera as opposed to portraying characters.
The only thing I felt the movie lacked was a middle – but the film was about how passionately and quickly people can fall in love and many years later – the slow withdrawal into falling out. It’s also a testament to the performances and direction – that since they were so intense in their portrayal – the middle part was a strong curiosity. As a viewer you are meant to question how they fell apart – and the question arises literally in the film “is this you?” – and you are meant to wonder – could this happen to anyone.

I really liked the direction of Derek Cianfrance – it wasn’t flashy or there to tell the story – it was there to present the characters – and through those characters the story was told. I watched the fluff “making of” feature on the blu-ray – which usually amounts of a bunch of press junket interviews where the actors, director and producers pat themselves on the back (and there was plenty of that) – but Cianfrance also revealed how this story had evolved by discussing the characters over a period of 6-years with both Gosling and Williams. That kind of preparation could easily make a story stale – but there’s really nothing stale about this film. It was fresh full of life – full of emotion – and it certainly seemed like a very cathartic experience for Cianfrance.
I wondered as I was watching the film – that since I found Dean to be a sympathetic character – and Cindy a bit colder (in the present day falling out of love portions) that if I watched it with my girl if she’d find Cindy to be a more sympathetic character and be able to identify more with her plight. It just feels that well-crafted emotionally that it would seem that if I took a different approach I could find either character to be equally as sympathetic.

Gosling and Williams have both become such phenomenal actors – I’m excited to see their careers continue to blossom. They are bold and daring – and fearless in their roles. Though I wonder with how bold these performances were – what more was going to make this an NC-17 film? I would like to see that original cut – if there was one – or if it was just Hollywood politics trying to label it as too strong.

If I had my way – I’d go back and make it the co-captain of my BEST OF 2010 roster along with SCOTT PILGRIM – as they were equally outstanding in their own rights - and now both seem intrical to my movie collection.


  1. I know precisely what you mean - if I had my way, I'd go back and slot this into my year-end top five as well!

    I've heard a lot of people talk about which one of these two characters is "right" at the end of it all. For me, it's just the story of what happens when two people who probably aren't meant to be together say "C'mon, we can do this!" and try to make it happen anyway.

    Great piece on a truly great film.

  2. Thanks, Hatts!

    Valid point, from the outside we can see them stretching over the parts where it won’t work – but from inside of it the whirlwind keeps them blind. That’s what makes love special – it’s emotional – not rational... And that is also an endearing factor in the strength of this film to me.