RYAN GOSLING MICHELE WILLIAMS
Much has been made about the original NC-17 rating for the film, which might end up disappointing some audience members after they see the film because there is nothing there to even suggest that kind of rating. In the end, I wonder if Harvey Weinstein paid them to give the film an NC-17 just to create buzz for the movie and then change it at the last minute. Either way, Blue Valentine is much more than it's rating; the performances by Gosling and Williams are some of the most memorable from 2010. This film beats out Rabbit Hole for the most honest performances and screenplay. Blue Valentine takes a look at the beginning and apparently the end of a relationship between a family. The viewer watches this non-linear romance with sharp contrast thanks to the creative editing.
Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams) have lost the spark in their marriage; only five years in, the once romantic couple settles for what they have. They met on accident and while Cindy was pregnant, but Dean fell in love with her at first sight and pursued her until the idea of becoming a family seemed appropriate. Now they live with contentment instead of love, a child instead of a career; and neither of them are happy. Cindy has lost all physical attraction in the charming boy that has now turned into a smoking drunk with no ambition.
Few people will want to see a film that exposes life and marriage for what it is--difficult; however, writer/director Derek Cianfrance manages to pull this very low budget film into a very honest relationship film dealing with mostly the negative aspects. Nothing here is diluted by the usual Hollywood romantic notion and those who live and expect fantasy or happy endings should steer clear. In many ways this entire film, which has been in development for about six years, is more like a study on the interactions between two people with a specific set of guidelines, as most of the dialogue between Gosling and Williams is improvised and they only met on the first day of shooting.
Besides the unique concept behind the film, everything is dependent on these two performances. There is a great scene on the subway where the ice finally breaks in the beginning of their relationship as Cindy tells a really terrible joke. It just feels like Gosling is hearing it honestly for the first time and having moments like that captured on film really bring us into their world. Cianfrance did not do takes; everything is one take, including continuous shooting and it is very raw. I think both actors give their best work yet in this film and both will likely get Oscar nominations both for their performance and dedication.
Final Thought – Compelling and honest performances root the film.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
Blue Valentine is likely to punch the buttons of anyone who has been divorced or broken up after a long-term relationship. The protagonists slog their way through issues that began when they met in their late teens. Both came from backgrounds that were far less than ideal—the most damaging perhaps in not being taught how to communicate with those close to them about emotional issues and concerns. But the movie may also ring true for people who are from enriched backgrounds but haven’t learned how to work through deeper emotional experiences and processes. It is clear that these two people initially cared deeply about one another and were madly in love in the beginning of their liaison. But without the ability to work through problems verbally, they end up not being able to discern the other’s experience and respond accordingly. As she becomes more disillusioned and distant, he becomes more demanding. Much of the realism may be attributed to the director’s and the stars’ actually living together for a month and contriving situations similar to the ones they would encounter in the script. I understand that much of the dialog during filming was ad lib in takes up to 40 minutes long. Both Gosling and Williams are outstanding in their roles.
I liked the director’s technique of presenting scenes of the relationship seemingly randomly, not in chronological order. That gave the movie a more realistic sense in that it is parallel with our real relationships, in which we never quite know for sure where we are in them: beginning? middle? end? Another strong point is the even-handedness with which the characters are presented; neither is favored or blamed more than the other. This film is gripping and hard to watch sometimes, but is an excellent picture of how a relationship could deteriorate over time.