Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Rating: 7 out of 10
This is an introspective look at a couple in various points of their relationship.
When it comes to love and Hollywood it can all get a little repetitive and frankly a lot sickening. While everyone likes to watch a feel good movie where issues are easily solved and everyone lives happily ever after. The truth is real life rarely works out that way. Issues are not resolved by holding a ghetto blaster over your head. They do not go away by writing your paramour everyday for an entire year, and they certainly are not concluded by treating a prostitute like an honest woman. Blue Valentine is the story of Dean and Cindy. They are a married couple and the story follows different time periods in their lives. It follows them both when they are single and when they are a couple.
In an industry where everything is bubblegum and rainbows when it comes to love, Blue Valentine is a breath of fresh air. The biggest compliment I can give a film is you forget it is a movie while watching it. This happened for me with Blue Valentine for almost the whole movie. The story is so real that it is almost like glimpsing the inner workings of an entire relationship from start to finish. The film moves deftly from present day where Dean and Cindy are married and with a child, to the past where Dean is courting Cindy and their first days as a couple. Because the film is so realistic you will be taken on a journey experiencing a lot of different conflicting emotions. One moment you will feel their frustrations of their present day lives. Alcohol abuse, mundane existence, no spark, all will make you wonder why these two people are together. The next moment you will be taken to their past and all of the negative emotions change in an instant. Love, passion, fun, will leave you in awe at how in love these two people are. That is how the film moves along. You hate them as a couple one instance and then want it to work out the next.
Dean is played by Ryan Gosling and Cindy is played by Michelle Williams. They are great together and seem to have an honest love fraught with many different real world struggles. Both of them could easily have taken best actor nods for their respective roles. They mesmerize you and infuriate you in equal measures. Sometimes love is not enough to make things work but you hope in this case it is. Truly great performances turned in by the two of them. On a side note ladies, Gosling with a receding hairline might ruin some of your Notebook fantasies.
The switching of time periods allows for relief from the super serious drama that is this film. Depressing and bleak are not easy to watch for a whole movie so moments of happiness alleviate some of the darkness. One moment they are fighting and the next Dean is serenading Cindy with a ukulele. This film shows that with a little thought and some great acting real world can be just as entertaining as fairy tale.
Virtually unknown director Derek Cianfrance got the most out of this great script. His use of up close camera work provides an ultra realistic view of a real world relationship. I am not saying every couple fight but few do not have the odd struggle. The jumping of timelines from present to past keeps the viewer emotionally invested in Dean and Cindy’s relationship which is never easy to do on screen. Ultimately with such a chaotic story it should have been too depressing to watch but Gosling and Williams kept it in check somehow. Truly this is a great finished product and I cannot wait to see what Cianfrance will do next.
I give this movie a recommendation especially to people who like real life situations.
T Factor + If you like Ryan Gosling or Michelle Williams as actors, than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you prefer feel good romance stories than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Lars and the Real Girl, The Kids Are All Right.