Blue Valentine is one of those movies I have wanted to see for sometime. I have heard a great deal of good things about the movie, from the acting to the direction, and from the editing to the story. I had heard there were reasons this story had received the Oscar Buzz it did in 2010. With the release of the DVD on Blu-ray, I had a good reason to finally catch up and see if the performances by Ryan Gosling and the Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Michelle Williams.
One of the unique and wonderful attributes of Blue Valentine is the uniqueness of the story being told. This brilliantly directed story by Derek Cianfrance does something unique these days. It tells a real story of romance and relationship in a way most people can unfortunately relate to. I say unfortunately because it holds back no punches in the reality of relationship for many people. Unique in its style is its wonderful cinematography and top-notch script that goes back and forth from love found to love lost. The editing is also a wonderful attribute as it is extremely difficult to edit a film coming from two points in time to a place of cohesiveness. While the editing, along with the direction is brilliant, so are the performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
Dean, played by Ryan Gosling is a high school drop-out that is a hard working underachiever. He has a great heart though and on a particular job where he has just moved in an elderly man into a nursing home, he meets a young lady, Cindy, played by Michelle Williams who is visiting her grandmother. For Ryan, it is love at first site and he pursues Cindy with the hope of love. Cindy on the other hand has come from difficult relationships. Under the direction of Cianfrance we go back and forth in time to see the characters at different stages in their life. Through the experience Cianfrance does a terrific job at drawing the viewer into this touching, honest and real relationship, not with just the good, but the bad and difficult.
I suspect people who watch Blue Valentine will have different reactions; the perspectives of the viewer will likely depend on the sex of the viewer. One of the brilliant aspects of the film, driven largely by the story, and acting, is the ability of the film to hit home with the viewer. It isn’t as if we are watching a movie but are watching the real lives of people we know. This isn’t to say we always enjoy those people, there are moments of reality that makes viewing the film difficult, not because it is poorly done, but because it is done so well. I found myself hurting for Ryan, while getting angry at Cindy, and at other times, feeling sorry for Ryan, wondering why he is so cruel and then thinking that Cindy is the glue that holds the family together. Of course I eventually discover there are no right or wrong answers to the observations, in fact, at times, I found myself discovering that I was wrong about the characters.
While not obvious on first appearance, the more I think about Blue Valentine, and it is one of those movies that will stick with you, I was deeply moved at how spiritual the film is. While there are no blatant prayer scenes, church scenes, or even overt spiritual discussions, in fact there are none of those in the final film, (although there is in the deleted scenes,) there are issues of love, relationship, and servitude that come into play. In Ryan we see a man who is so deeply in love that he has given up his dreams and aspirations to find out that to love his wife, and be there for his daughter are really the dreams that matter. His wife doesn’t understand though, she wants him to live for himself and much like her past, she has trouble with relationship, trouble that she has seen lived out in her own home while growing up. We see the importance of not just love in marriage, but the importance of maintaining that love through the development of relationship. The relationships we are a part of should be nurtured and developed not just at the start of that relationship, but throughout the relationship. I was reminded of my own relationship with God and the importance of not just experiencing the love relationship in the early days of faith, but the importance of maintaining that relationship, to grow together, to maintain the love that was there in the beginning. That comes with understanding and spending time with each other. In Blue Valentine, while we see the beauty of that love, we also see the heartache of what can and often does happen when relationship is not maintained.
There are times I didn’t much care for Blue Valentine because it was too real, not because it was a bad movie, but a very good movie with great performances. This movie is a Catch-22 of sorts, so good that it is disturbing. For a fan of the art of film, this is a must see, for those who want happy endings or a movie where everything is tied up and entertainment abounds, this could be a let down. As for me, I found the movie one of the best from 2010, and a must view, not just a must view, but a movie deserving of ownership. The DVD has some wonderful special features including a making of documentary and a number of deleted scenes and commentary from the Director and Editor of the film. For film buffs there is some tremendous information available in the commentary. I for one found the film sexy, intelligent, and worthy of another watch. I saw the film without my wife and am contemplating watching it with her, not just for her opinion, but to share a wonderful moment with a very enlightening movie.
To see the video posted below click on the video. If the video isn’t at full scale or doesn’t show up, click on the following link:
The following is an interview at Sundance with the Cast and Director of Blue Valentine:
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