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Blue Valentine

A film staring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

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Two of the best performances of 2010

  • Jan 18, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+3
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, naïve & sweetly in-love. When we bounce to the present, we seem them harried, worried and barely able to tolerate each other.

Some would say that the film makes a broad statement on how love or marriage can go from sweet to sour. How we sabotage our happiness. How difficult it is to make a happy marriage (or for the true cynics, how IMPOSSIBLE it is).

I took NO global message from the film. It is powerful, but it is very small in scope. This is because the filmmaker Derek Cianfrance has made a deeply SPECIFIC movie. Gosling & Williams give VERY lived-in performances where we very much feel we are looking at a very particular couple going through very particular joys and disappointments. We feel like we're getting a very intimate peek into what makes this particular couple tick. Thus, it becomes nearly impossible to extrapolate the film to the general subject of "marriage." This is not a failing, per se…but I've certainly read comments on the film that imply that very thing. That is absurd, quite frankly. Each marriage has its own rhythms, pulses, occurrences & secrets. The relationship depicted here feels real, because it is so specific. It also feels small.

To me, the main reason to see this film is for the performances. Both stars do their best work here…by a long way. Williams has given some nice performances in the past (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, WENDY & LUCY)…but often her performances have been of women more or less drained by life. Williams, particularly in the early scenes, is full of undirected ambition and spirit. She's eager to get away from her terrible homelife and is smart enough to have career ambitions, even though this is not something that runs in her family. She's very close to her grandmother, but terrorized by her parents, who have vicious arguments that she must endure. She makes lousy choices in men. Gosling is new to the big city (NYC) and naïve. He's poorly educated, and not terribly ambitious. He's not seen anything for himself other than getting away from his own sad family situation. He's a terribly nice guy (his early scene with a senior citizen he doesn't even know is touching, heartbreaking and puts us forever on his side)…but has little to offer other than devoted, puppy-dog love. The two have a passionate and convincing early romance…but when they take the step to marriage, we also see that from the first day, the seeds of end of the marriage have already been planted. I won't give specifics…but let's just say that not enough of their paths are converging for this thing to really have a shot. For them, marriage is an escape from demons…and we see they are bringing some of the demons right along with them.

In the later scenes, as they fight and old bitterness comes out…we are able to pretty much guess just how the five years since the wedding day have gone by. Gosling has spent his time in menial jobs, showing no inclination to move up. Williams, because she now has a family, has put her ambitions on the back burner. She's a nurse, but she's also by far the primary breadwinner. The two seem to have a comfortable lower middle-class life…but their paths have diverged (Gosling is barely even on a path.)


I suspect the film wants us to feel good and bad for each of them in equal measure. To not take sides...but to simply feel bad for both and to wish they could find a way to get it together. However, my experience and that of my wife, was that we very much took sides (both with the same person)…and this somewhat diminishes the power of the film. It's not meant to be a good vs. bad movie…but it sort of ends up that way.

This is not a happy film...but there's plenty of wry humor. (And if you've heard about the graphic sex that initially got this film an NC-17…you'll likely scratch your head at that. The sex in BLACK SWAN was far more "shocking.") It's also not as depressing as perhaps you've heard. Again, because we're watching a film that ISN'T about our own marriage. Our marriage is very different. We see this couple and feel for them…but we don't sit there and think, "OMG, this is SO much like my marriage." (Thank goodness.) Granted, this is a very personal response from me…others may feel differently.

You should absolutely see the film, though. It features two of the very best American performances this year. And despite seeming like we're just watching home movies, it is actually very artfully photographed. And as a bonus, it features the most outrageous cheap hotel room in film history. (Don't ask…just see for yourself.)

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January 30, 2011
"I took NO global message from the film. It is powerful, but it is very small in scope. This is because the filmmaker Derek Cianfrance has made a deeply SPECIFIC movie." Thank you! Nicely done.
 
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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
Caption
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 . June 14, 2011
Nonlinear storytelling, whether in a novel or a film, challenges the reader/viewer with fragments of story scattered across time and coincidences in a way that can create disorientation: the payback is that this technique of relating a story allows an intimate examination of not only the characters of the tale but also an opportunity to turn the events inward, perhaps reviving memories, piecing together reasons for the present and the journey taken simultaneously with the development of the story. …
review by . December 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
EXCELLENT ACTING
      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 …
review by . December 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
“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 …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
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 …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Wiki


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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Details

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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