No love story has been told quite so powerfully as Blue Valentine. Oscar Nominee for Best Actress Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (Oscar Nominee, Half Nelson) star in this honest, moving and uninhibited love story. Told in an innovative style that blends present moments in time with romantic past memories. Blue Valentine is the uncompromising portrait of Dean and Cindy, a young married couple who have grown apart, taking one night away from their daughter to try to save their relationship. Highlighted by provocative scenes alternately intimate and intense, the film captured audiences and critics alike, with the Los Angeles Times pronouncing it “something extraordinary, a valentine that actually says something true about being in love.”
Blue Valentine 8.0
When I first saw the trailer to this film, I rolled my eyes and yawned a bit; it just really didn’t seem that interesting or any different from any handful of romantic dramas. It’s not that it would necessarily be a terrible film, it’s just that they’re a dime a dozen and this one didn’t pull me in more than any other.
Then I started readings things about it.
I read, for one, that there was some controversy around a scene in which Gosling goes down on Williams. I couldn’t fathom this because we’ve seen simulated cunnilingus on the silver screen since at least as far back as ’37°2 le matin’ and ‘Basic Instinct’ (and perhaps before then… I’m no expert! ). So what was the big deal, especially in this day and age…?
But, mostly, word started trickling in about its content. Reviews were selling it as a dissection of the slow disintegration of a relationship. One reviewer was saying that the beauty in ‘Blue Valentine’ was that it didn’t point the finger at anyone or make it obvious what happened – that, like in real life, most relationships slowly dissolve over time; it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong.
And, as I had just recently been through a break-up, this concept really spoke to me. I knew that it would probably be a harrowing experience to watch ‘Blue Valentine’, but I felt compelled to see it and revisit moments that would likely be familiar to me (the story was apparently told in flashbacks, to show how the relationship started and got to where it is now, in its final throes).
While ‘Blue Valentine’ is a very good film, I’m slightly disappointed: I thought that we would see them go from bliss and passion to disenchantment and disconnection. However, from my perspective, the couple never started off all that connected in the first place: they barely knew each other when they decided to start a family!
The key weakness of the film is in making this part more engrossing. Granted, it may be more realistic (at least for some people), but, by having a less powerful beginning, it doesn’t make the transition so heart-wrenching; the relationship goes from “okay” to “meh”. Further to this, I would have liked to see various stages in their relationship – not just the beginning and end.
I kind of disliked Gosling’s character, ’cause he seems like a goofball with no class at all, but Gosling incarnated Dean in such a way that you could still feel for him (for instance, you totally bought that he still loves Cindy in his own, dare-I-say “special”, way). Gosling is a remarkable actor, I think. He’s certainly one whose career you’ll want to watch.
Williams, of course, was perfect for her role; she played her character with the right amount of nuance. It was almost as though she wasn’t acting at all, as if she was playing herself; it just felt real. Having said that, boy, can you ever tell from the start that she is no longer in Love, that she’s at the end of her rope…
I think that, if anything, what makes this film special is the approach that the director and actors took: they discussed and developed the characters over years, and shot some parts of the film in ways as to make the relationship appear more “lived-in” (for instance, they stayed in the same house together for a month). It’s hardly surprising that the film feels more like a documentary than a staged silver-screen presentation.
Still, despite its qualities, the end result is more akin to what I expected when I first saw the trailer. It’s a well-made film, and I can’t knock it for what it is, but it somehow left me cold – not at all what I had hoped for, nor what I’m guessing the filmmakers intended. That’s a real bloody shame, ’cause I was totally in the right frame of mind for it.
Post scriptum: oh, and that sex scene that some were commenting on? Well, it’s nothing to get up in arms about. I mean, really, I’ve seen more explicit and/or obscene sequences in many major motion pictures. It was seriously no big deal whatsoever. And, anyway, it’s nothing most of us haven’t done before…