Movie Review – BLUE VALENTINE (2010)

Posted on by Dave

By: Garrett Collins

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Josh Lucas

Human relationships are a very interesting part of living. Especially ones that involve falling in love. Because, when they’re going good, that other person is the highlight of your life. The one you always think about. The, well….one….for you. Nothing deters you from that permanent smile that person puts on your face. However, when the ‘happy’ relationship, which now involves a marriage and child turns bad, slowly, those happy dinners you used to have together turn sour to taste, along with feelings toward the person across from you. Those weekend getaways, which used to bring up such feelings of joy, now turn almost into a burden, and both people wonder what happened that made this now feel uncomfortable. And, yes, the lovemaking which was so pure and rich in the happiest of times, now does not involve as much, well, love.

All of these feelings are brought to the surface by director Derek Cianfrance with his movie Blue Valentine. A movie that he spent 12 years trying to make. And, a movie that, as you can see from above, is not your typical film with the word ‘valentine’ in it. The film stars Ryan Gosling (who is rapidly becoming my favorite actor) and Michelle Williams as a contemporary couple, and the evolution of their relationship from the time they meet to its dissolution. A film that crossovers from one time period to another, the movie is full of uncomfortable and happy situations that are played so purely by both Gosling and Williams that they contain mounds of depth and power. Their performances, and this movie in general, is not like most films, where there’s a, what George Lucas likes to call ‘a-ha’ moment. A moment where a character realizes it is now time to get away. No, this movie is a slow burn. A burn that some people might find boring. However, anyone who has witnessed and/or experienced the sadness this film depicts will relate, and know that nine times out of ten, this is how the disintegration of love in real life situations occurs.

The feel of the film is, as you can imagine, very dark. Director Cianfrance foreshadows a lot of the film by covering it in the revolving colors of blue and red. He also had Gosling and Williams live together in a low rent house for a time, having them go clothes and grocery shopping together as well. All of this pays off in the film, as arguments and even their sweet moments do not seem calculating. Instead, they come off as moments that are done as impulse. Brilliant work is done by both, especially Williams. Finally cementing the fact that her Dawson’s Creek acting days are far behind her, she has put together a string of performances (Brokeback Mountain, My Week With Marilyn) that, in my mind, would rank her right up there with the best in the biz who, according to many, is Meryl Streep.

Unrelenting, mesmerizing, and gripping, this movie is not for everybody. People looking for a laugh riot rom-com need to go elsewhere. But, flashes from a first date directly to an uncomfortable meal between the two are some examples of what this movie has to offer. Brilliant performances by two actors who have really come into their own as of late. Yeah, the direction was a little off at times (the ending being very underwhelming hedges as an example of Cianfrance’s inability to close it out). But, maybe that’s the beauty of it. While everyone has their own stories of relationships that have gone south, not everyone has the wherewithal to realize that exact moment it does. The tragic part of this movie is, I don’t think even with a microscope that could have even been possible. Highly recommended viewing, if only to see two actors display their craft, and one director hone it.

4 out of 5

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