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Blue Valentine

A film staring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

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What Happened to Us?

  • Dec 30, 2010
“Blue Valentine” is about as perfect a film as any you’re likely to see. Even with the recent release of the brilliant “Rabbit Hole,” it’s been ages since I’ve seen a story so resonant with characters so real. Many wonderful films have taken life issues and heightened them for dramatic emphasis; this movie presents itself so authentically that, if it weren’t for the casting of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, I might have mistaken it for a work of creative nonfiction. We’re often asked to look deeper into characters and find a little bit of ourselves. Here, we not only see ourselves, but also just about everyone we know or have known. This is a human story – so simple and yet so complex, full of drama and humor, mindful of the situation yet vague with the answers. It taps into our emotions and somehow finds the right one to play off of, no matter what our circumstances in life.
Gosling and Williams play Dean and Cindy. The film shifts back and forth through time, showing two distinct phases in their relationship. In the beginning, Cindy was in college studying medicine and Dean was an employee for a moving van company. They didn’t have much in common, except that they were in love. They’re now married, and although they’re raising an adorable daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka), that spark is no longer there. Cindy is a full time nurse and hardly ever home. Dean misses his wife to the point that he drinks a bit more than he should. They snap at each other when it seems as if nothing is wrong. Neither of them are bad people; it’s just that, somewhere along the way, they’ve lost the ability to communicate with one another. Dean tries to rekindle the flame by taking Cindy to a motel and having a night to themselves. It doesn’t go as planned.
What went wrong? It would be far too easy to place the blame on an emotional catastrophe, like an affair or a death. Maybe they’re just incompatible. Cindy’s goal is to become a doctor, which is to say she wants to make something of herself. To make something of yourself is by definition a change, and change is a sign that you’re not happy with the way things are. If you watched as your mother had all the motivation and contentment bullied out of her by your father, would you be happy? Cindy was close with her grandmother (Jen Jones), who told her that, in spite of her marriage to her grandfather, she never really fell in love. So Cindy has two generations worth of evidence to support the belief that the word “commitment” is code for settling for something less.
Compare this to Dean. He lives authentically. He never graduated high school because it just wasn’t for him. When he was younger, he was certain he’d never want a wife or a child; now that he’s older, he realizes that he always wanted both. For him, work is not about building a career but about providing for himself and his family, and he’s content to take whatever odd jobs he can get. In essence, he likes himself the way he is. I suspect Cindy was more attracted to an ideal rather than a person. In those early days, it was fun dating a man with no prospects. Now that they’re married, now that it’s obvious that Dean has no ambition to be anyone other than himself, she sees only the wasted potential. What about his music? What about his singing? It makes no sense to her that he can enjoy those things yet not use them as a way to become something greater.
Inevitably, it comes down the child. By wanting a divorce, Dean claims that Cindy isn’t thinking of what’s best for their daughter. He argues (perhaps correctly) that Frankie shouldn’t have to grow up in a broken home, as he did. Cindy argues (perhaps correctly) that Frankie shouldn’t have to grow up listening to her parents fight, as she did. I will not use this review as a platform for my views on parental rights or child advocacy. All that matters is that the issue is presented realistically, and that there are no easy answers.
A subplot involving an ex-boyfriend (Mike Vogel) might seem downplayed but is in fact as intelligently written as the rest of the film is. In another life – in another movie – he would be the kind of guy that sits on the witness stand with his head down, sobbing to the jury about loving her too much. Thank God this movie doesn’t go for anything that contrived. It’s a cliché to say that a film is a slice of life, but in this case, that’s the best description there is. “Blue Valentine” has no agenda; what we personally bring to the movie determines how we view the characters, which is to say we’re not forced to come to conclusions about how we feel about them. They are who they are. This is the kind of movie that may not have stunts or special effects but can still grab you and not let go. You should see it. Then you should ask your family to see it. Then you should ask your friends to see it, but only on the condition that they ask their families to see it.

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May 15, 2011
This is an excellent movie, and so is your review. I saw it last night on 'Netflix,' and I admired the performances--as I thought I would--but I thought maybe something was missing. I needed a night, and still I wanted to use my homework-free pass this morning. I really enjoyed your insight and your way of generalizing the movie--it has helped me to understand and appreciate it more completely. :>) JP
May 16, 2011
Thanks, JP. It's so satisfying to know that reading my review helped you understand the movie better. I live for comments like that -- which should give you an idea of just how insecure I am ;-)
January 11, 2011
Sounds like a great character film. I'm still not sure I would see this one anytime soon purely because of content. I've been wanting to view comedies rather than realistic portrayals of life. Great review, though!
January 11, 2011
Yeah, I understand Adri. I rented PIRANHA and THE OTHER GUYS so I can have some entertainment that I don't need to think too much about. I need to see some wholesome crazy entertainment but the depressing movies just keep on calling out to me LOL!!
January 11, 2011
LOL, I hear you!
December 30, 2010
I skimmed your review since I have the full intention of seeing this real soon. It isn't playing (save for NY and LA) but I will see it as soon as it plays in the Bay area! I will return to comment further and thank you for supporting Movie Hype! I hope you are having fun and feel free to message me with suggestions! :)
More Blue Valentine reviews
review by . January 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
People Change and Feelings Change...Life in Marriage And Marriage In Life....
Love and Marriage. Life and Marriage. How about life and love in marriage? We’ve all heard the stories; why some couples make it and some don’t. I guess I would be lying if I said that director Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” brings something new to the table as with films about the hardships of marriage. No, it doesn’t offer anything different, but I guess it is its familiar elements that makes it easily accessible and believable. For some reason, this film …
review by . January 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It's a movie about life, or rather marriage, as they say. Is it really?   If marriages are like this, then it's uninspiring and one wonders why so many people are flocking to the church for the wedding of a lifetime! This year, Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting married. That's right, despite his parents' failed marriage. It shall be the wedding of 2011 for most people in the UK. That's sidetracking...      Anyway, Blue Valentine is not …
review by . May 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     "Blue Valentine" is a film that speaks to me because it shares my exact philosophies and musings on the mere concepts of love and romance. I felt like I knew these two lovers within myself; which was a good feeling, even through their often times difficult-to-watch hardships. "Blue Valentine" will not be the easiest of films, but it's one of the strongest depictions of on-screen romance I've seen in quite some time. Love it or hate it; "Blue Valentine" does …
review by . January 18, 2011
BLUE VALENTINE is a low budget film, telling us about the beginning and end of a marriage. It stars Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams. The movie shows us "now" over the space of just a couple of days, as we see this couple along with their roughly 5 year old child, going through mundane tasks and the final arguments that lead to their split. The film also bounces back to the few weeks or months from their first meeting until the day they get married. We see them about 5 or 6 years younger, na├»ve …
review by . December 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      BLUE VALENTINE      I came into this movie expecting nothing mainly because I didn't care enough about it. I hadn't heard to much about it when it came out so I didn't pay much attention to it. But after reading the review of this film from Sir William of Woopak I decided to give it a try. I am really glad I did now because the story is very real and the performances here are excellent.      The film follows Michelle Williams …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Now there are moments that some may not want to see and this is not a particularly happy film. Still with all that said I still think it is worth a rental at least. Sure it may not be for every body but it just may be for you. So in the chance that is you, pick it up. This is a great flick with excellent acting.
review by . January 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was never going to have a happy ending, I knew that going in. All I kept hearing was that was the most depressing movie of all time. Knowing that I took this to be a classic who done it? Like most people I want a fall guy, I want to know what happened here. I want to know why these beautiful and crazy kids are doomed to fail.   Enter Ryan Gosling as the care-free Dean, i doubt he had too much going for him before this story starts and is not too worried about his future. While …
review by . January 31, 2011
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a married couple with a little girl named Frankie who looks to be about three or four. Cindy works as an ultrasound technician. Dean is a house-painter.      Dean is really good with Frankie, in part because he's still kind of a kid himself, and not in a good way. After agreeing with Frankie that the oatmeal Cindy made her looks disgusting, he plops spoonfuls of it all over the table and suggests that they eat the raisins …
review by . January 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Without taking sides, Blue Valentine deals with extreme situations and draws parallel lines between his two main extreme opponents. The relationship between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) evolves beautifully by covering touching issues and contrasts within the life of two once-lovers. It doesn't get too melodramatic, it doesn't get cheesy nor predictable and it juggles with the emotional core of the movie. Dean is a low-educated guy, who is ruled only by his …
review by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Blue Is a Serious Understatement
BLUE VALENTINE   Written by Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne   Directed by Derek Cianfrance   Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams       Cindy: How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?   Gramma: I think the only way to find out is to have those feelings.       When they say, “For better of for worse,” in wedding vows, I believe they are referring …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


Blue Valentine
is a 2010 American romantic drama film written and directed by Derek Cianfrance that premiered in competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It is co-written by Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne and stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The film was scored by Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear.
The film centers on a married couple, Dean and Cindy, and their relationship over a number of years by shifting between different time periods. Problems with the marriage centre around Cindy's ambition, juxtaposed to Dean's contentment to centre his life around his wife and child.
The script recently won the Chrysler Film Project, a competition that awards cash to an outstanding new feature film director, selected from over 550 submissions from across the country, overseen by Independent Feature Project, and evaluated by a panel of eminent film industry professionals.
The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. It will be distributed by The Weinstein Company, and set for a limited release on December 31, 2010 in USA. The movie will be released earlier in Australia on December 23, 2010.
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Director: Derek Cianfrance
Genre: Drama, Romance
Release Date: Dec. 31, 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: Think Films
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