Review: Blue Valentine
Although at its core Blue Valentine is actually quite a depressing film, it’s tinged with realism and it’s so addictive – anyone who watches it will no doubt re-visit it over and over again.
Director Derek Cianfrance brings such compassion and beauty to the screen – mainly by the clever on-screen positioning of the central characters. Their love story is brutally examined for all to see.
Blue Valentine centres around a modern day couple, Dean and Cindy, and explores their courtship and subsequent marriage. With scenes flickering between the past and present, the film focuses on the experience of falling in love and the tragedy of falling out of it.
Dean is in his early twenties and working for a removal company when he bumps into Cindy – an aspiring medical student. The pair quickly fall in love and begin a relationship. Cindy’s past with high-school jock Bobby catches up with them though and she finds out she is pregnant. Loyal Dean declares his love for Cindy and promises to stay by her side. The couple end up marrying and it’s their struggling marriage (6 years later) that we see as the present day.
The flashback scenes are intricate and the performances from both Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy) are outstanding. Stand out scenes include their first date where Dean serenades Cindy with a Ukulele and his rendition of You Always Hurt The One You Love (this is so poignant and is undeniably linked to their present). The bus ride scene where Dean suggests they ‘become a family’ is also beautiful to watch – we defy any cynic that says they are not affected by their emotional performance and youthful optimism.
Flash forward to the present day and things are harshly different. Dean is sporting a receding hair line and is contently plodding along in a painting and decorating job. Cindy, stifled by her marriage, is working as a nurse but can’t help wanting to progress to the next level – something that her marriage seems to be in the way of.
It’s so evident that Gosling and Williams spent a month living together before the making of this movie. Their arguments are so real – everything about them screams married couple.
Although the flashback scenes fill you with hope for the couple, the relationship seems doomed. Both Dean and Cindy come from dysfunctional families and the cracks in their relationship are always on show. Dean is happy to stay in his dead-end job and is frustrated with Cindy’s nagging; Cindy can’t stop nagging at Dean’s lack of enthusiasm and waste of potential.
If you’re one of those people that looks for a significant message to a film you might be disappointed with Blue Valentine. Their really isn’t much of a moral – it’s more an exploration of human relationships and how love can blossom and, sadly, how it can dissolve.
If you don’t strain too much on the message and just enjoy the story and the characters then Blue Valentine will no doubt make it into your DVD collection.