Film Review : Blue Valentine (2010)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 87%
Netflix Watch Instant
Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress – Michelle Williams
Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor – Ryan Gosling

Directed By – Derek Cianfrance
Starring – Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, and Faith Wladyka

The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.

Why did I do this to myself? Why did I watch this film the day before Valentine’s Day? I’m beginning to think that somewhere deep in my brain lies a section of tissue that loves to punish the rest of my brain. I knew what I was in for yet I hit play on my DVR anyway. I don’t understand it. I’m still glad I did it because I ended up loving the film.

Blue Valentine centers around the relationship of Dean and Cindy, two people who met by chance and fell in love. That sounds nice doesn’t it? That sounds like something you can curl up in your favorite PJs, get a nice glass of wine, pop in the DVD player, and just enjoy the romance. Well, there are some great elements but what you’ll ultimately get is a punch in the face. Right. In. The. Face. This is not a film to be viewed if you have recently gone through a breakup, but perhaps it’s what is needed to put things into perspective and get the grieving process into full gear. I know it hit me hard. Relationships are tough business. The relationship we see unfold throughout the course of the film is full of intensity from where we start to where we leave off. It’s a perfect example of how we roll the dice. Some people we meet will end up being people we love forever. Some people we meet will end up being people we hate. Sometimes we’ll meet a person and both of those things will happen. It’s necessary though. It’s necessary to go through these things. Sometimes you just have to get your heart ripped out and this film did a great job ripping mine out.

Derek Cianfrance is slowly becoming one of my favorite up and coming directors. His last film, “A Place Beyond the Pines” was a slightly flawed but overall fantastic film and now that I’ve seen “Blue Valentine”, I can’t wait for what he has next. The dude is a wonder behind the camera. There were a lot of scenes in BV that were done using a handheld camera and while the term “shaky cam” could possibly be used for some, what it did ws make the film more real. I didn’t think this was possible due to the fact that Cianfrance had both of his leads improvise many scenes but the camera added an extra sense of realism to the film. Long shots covering the length of conversation kept me interested in what was being said. The way in which Cianfrance also told his story was interesting. The film jumped from the beginning of Dean and Cindy’s relationship to the present day relationship. This, at least for me, kept the relationship as a whole in view. I didn’t forget what they went through at the beginning of the film because I was still being shown the beginning of the relationship at the end. This also laid the heavy on pretty thick as we are constantly watching them in love and in turmoil. It was very powerful.

Speaking of powerful, what performances by Williams and Gosling. They had some of the best chemistry on screen that I’ve ever seen and the fact that they improvised a lot of their scenes together makes it even more fascinating. Gosling has always been a solid actor to me. He collaborations with Nicolas Winding Refn have been a little off but he is a very capable actor who may have given his career performance in BV. Williams, who earned an Oscar nomination for her role, also is at her career best. Williams in particular was incredible once the camera was locked on her face, her eyes in every scene and her facial expressions were great to watch as you could tell she was losing herself in her character. Gosling was charming and also incredibly tragic. Both were incredible to watch.

I know I shouldn’t have watched this film with tomorrow looming, but I’m glad I did. It’s a tragic story but ultimately a real one. Relationships can be brutal beasts and not every single one ends with old age and grandchildren. It’s important to remember this and this film does a great job portraying what people have to deal with when they decide to fall in love. The film also boasts great music from Grizzly Bear and an end title sequence that is unique and uplifting. Great film.

4.5/5




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