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Blue Valentine (2010)

January 31, 2011


Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne, and Joey Curtis

Produced by: Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky, and Jamie Patricof

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Rated R for strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating

112 min.

U.S. Release Date: December 29, 2010 (limited)

Upon its initial release, writer-director Derek Cianfrance’s narrative departure Blue Valentine was met with a lot of resistance from the MPAA ratings board.  The film follows the entire relationship arch of two people and we, the viewers, watch their courting period and demise interlaced.  Given Cianfrance’s documentary background, the style of this movie is very gritty and realistic, so naturally there is some real-life marital friction, fighting, and occasional sex.  Like I said, the nature of the explicit scenes in Blue Valentine shocked the ratings board at first, but are those scenes really that big of a deal, and if so, are they enough to tear the viewer away from this story?




Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a married couple, and we see their relationship while shifting back and forth in time between their courtship and the dissolution of their marriage several years later.  Dean is a young high school dropout, working for a New York City moving company, and Cindy is a premed student living with her unhappy parents in Pennsylvania.  They meet by chance in a retirement home while Dean is moving in a new resident and Cindy is visiting her grandmother.  The two fall deeply in love in a matter of weeks, and rush into marriage after discovering Cindy is pregnant from a previous boyfriend.


The story of their blooming love is intercut with an unfortunate weekend near the assumed conclusion of their marriage. Dean is a part-time painter while Cindy works as a nurse and the couple is having quite a bit of problems.  In an attempt to get some time away and possibly jumpstart their unsettled marriage, Dean takes Cindy to a junky motel to see if the two have anything left.



After seeing the film, I cannot imagine this story told in any other way than how it is.  Cianfrance’s visual and directing styles make for a relationship drama that is absolutely made for adults and isn’t candy coated at all.  Gosling and Williams work perfectly together to be perfectly believable in both the wooing and crumbling stages of this relationship.  The two don’t show a great physical metamorphosis over time, but they both seem so weathered and broken in the latter.  While both deliver eloquent performances, it is Williams who carries the emotional brunt of this story and her performances benefits as a result.  It should also be mentioned that Michelle Williams has deservedly earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Cindy.



If you want to see a film that truly imitates real life and doesn’t apply the heavy gloss that most films do, then Blue Valentine will stimulate you and force you to get introspective and assess how you treat those close to you in your own life.  If you view moviegoing as simply as escapist activity and you often choose not to see films that depict stark realism, this may not be the movie for you, though you should see it anyway!



Rating: ***


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Louis Plamondon permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:58 pm

    Great review! I think that bottom line, the female lead needed to have higher standards for herself and not fall for the confident bad-ass type who would lead a life that goes nowhere. She could have been a doctor, she could have had a great life. Sad sad movie!


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