Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Review: "Blue Valentine" (2010)

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Movie"Blue Valentine"
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

A look at the relationship between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), from how it came together, to how it grew, to how it fell apart. 

"Blue Valentine" is directed by Derek Cianfrance, who also wrote the film along with Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne. It takes a very intense look at the relationship of an average couple: Dean, played by Ryan Gosling, and Cindy, played by Michelle Williams. The couple have been married for six or so years, and together, they have a young daughter. They are at a point in their relationship where it looks like their marriage is falling apart as it seems they cannot so much as have a simple conversation without it resulting in some sort of an argument. This breakdown of their relationship is intertwined with flashbacks of its formation, how they came to fall in love and the circumstances in which they found themselves married and pregnant.

The best way to describe this story is honest. Hollywood doesn't make a habit of churning out these realistic, raw, unfiltered looks at relationships, instead opting for the ones that give people false hopes for love. "Blue Valentine" offers a genuine look at romance and relationships without this grandiose, fabricated Hollywood fantasy we usually see portrayed in modern, mainstream romances. Loaded with realism and a hefty dose of drama, all of the squabbles, pain, tenderness, and arguments feel organic. We have seen couples argue like this in real life over things that seem innocuous and trivial, but to them, what might appear harmless on the surface might actually be something toxic upon closer examination. In many ways, we are able to understand Dean and Cindy's entire relationship with just a glimpse of its beginning and end, and this is mainly because of director Cianfrance's attention to detail behind the camera and Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling's brilliantly acted performances in front of it. We fully believe both of them in their portrayals of these broken, hurting, and angry but still caring individuals. Williams was recognized for her efforts with an Oscar nomination for best actress, and rightfully so. She is spectacular. Though Gosling didn't receive the same recognition, he is certainly deserving as he puts on a hell of a performance.

Nothing about "Blue Valentine" seems artificial. In fact, according to IMDb trivia, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams even lived a house together before filming so they could get the sense of what it was like to live together as a simulated "couple." They even lived on a house painter's salary during this 30 day period, so it doesn't get much more real than that. Derek Cianfrance has crafted something tragically beautiful and painfully realistic in "Blue Valentine," but this is not the type of film we could revisit on a regular basis despite our enjoying it. We've been married for 6 years and it's hard to watch even now, so we're sure it's not great for just married couples, either. The arguments, the situations, the tension, and even the love can make for an uncomfortable, depressing, hard to watch viewing experience, but in its truth, it is truly something special. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give flawless, gut-wrenching performances, and when you combine these efforts with Cianfrance, Curtis, and Delavigne's honest writing and Cianfrance's gorgeous cinematography, this is one deep, soul-crushingly gripping drama.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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