Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blue Valentine (2010)


It seems that the basic criteria for writing a review of Blue Valentine is that you open up with a melancholic prose on the destructive power of a dying relationship. Some go the doom and gloom route on how all relationships are a facade and to love is to embrace its inevitable demise. As the child to parents who have been married for thirty years, and the grandson to grandparents who've been married for sixty, that's one ticket I'm not buying. Nor am I buying the alternative viewpoint that all is bubblegum that it's really sad that these two just couldn't work it out.

Blue Valentine is about forgetfulness, in a rather abstract sense. Somewhere along the line our romantic focal point, Dean and Cindy forgot what it meant to love. Perhaps they never really knew at all. Love is more than passion, prosperity, and prospects. Love is about communication, compassion, and understanding. Passion flies by like wind over a meadow. It's ripples are everlasting, but in the end it is just a passing thing. What is important is what you do once it has left you by the wayside onward towards another unsuspecting pair.

Once the wind has made its move, Dean and Cindy seem at a loss for what is to come next. Their whirlwind romance, catapulted into the next dimension by pregnancy and a plethora of personal issues, comes to a point where they forget one another. The romance is gone. They exist now as two inverse functions desperately seeking the points of overlap. Yet even when they do manage an honest connection, the time apart has made them judgmental and repressive. They can't be honest because of the collateral damage. Even when they try, they run away because it's too hard. In the end, it is their own destruction that they bring about.

Told simultaneously, we see the rise and fall of Dean and Cindy through the scope of the events that forever changed their relationship. When we first meet Dean he's a young, charismatic, hard worker just looking for a decent job to pay the bills, and maybe find a girl or two. Cindy is an aspiring doctor with her wrestling boyfriend, and passes her time by taking care of her sickly grandmother. The world is ahead of her, and she's ready to take it on and escape her current circumstances. But when things fall apart with her loving partner, she finds herself magnetically attracted to the young moving boy at her grandmother's rest home. Their whirlwind romance is intense, quirky, and full of spontaneity and desire.

Years later, Dean and Cindy take care of their young, elementary aged daughter. Dean is working as a painter and drinks constantly. Cindy is a nurse at a small clinic with a cute doctor hoping to whisk her away with him to a new job and 'brighter' future. The desire seems all but gone, and in its place we find a cold awareness. The sort of faulty relationship you find when only a child seems to really hold it together. Like planets, their lives revolve around the daughter, only lining up on certain events, and even then still a safe distance away. Dean desperately wants the romantic past, but seems perfectly content with the present. Cindy desperately wants her prospect filled past, and feels weighed down by Dean's contentment. An intended romantic getaway to a second-rate hotel becomes the launching pad through which the end finally comes.

Perhaps the most appreciable aspect of Blue Valentine is the beauty to which director Derek Cianfrance captures the film. With a stern sense of realism, Cianfrance presents the audience with a story that feels so real you could imagine a friend of yours telling you about the demise of their own relationship. This factor draws back any hindrances from potential fabricated emotional plot points, and gives Gosling and Williams a stage upon which to shine. And shine they do.

Through the beautiful imagery of Cianfrance, we see the tale unfold. If it weren't for the sheer frustration that can be derived from two broken souls, Blue Valentine would almost be a perfect film. Yet as far as breakthrough films go, Cianfrance has hit a home run worth of note, awards, and a great deal more attention than he's gotten. Then again, that's the power of media's obsession with 'ooooh' such a naughty film. Has the sad side effect of wearing down potential voters. Unfortunately Blue Valentine is resigned to the A Single Man fate. A passing award nomination for a beautiful film that deserved far more affection than it truly got.

Film Credits:
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, and Cami Delavigne

3 better thoughts:

Castor said...

Indeed, bummed this movie didn't make more of a ripple in terms of awards. I thought this was a really powerful and well-acted movie. Michelle Williams for Best Actress!!!

CMrok93 said...

Gosling and Williams are down-right perfect in these roles as Dean and Cindy. You feel it when their in love, and you feel it when their at each others throats. Good review, check out mine when you can!

Josh said...

Nice review. I don't exactly agree with the movie being criminally overlooked or anything of that nature though. At the end of the day, it's not going to win any Best Picture awards or anything for me. Just for me it seemed too slow in parts and thus seemed to kinda drag.

Overall though it was an enjoyable watch, even above average, but not great. Of course, I also think some of those Best Picture nominees are really overrated, so maybe it should have got a nod at least. I'd definitely put this movie over that boring garbage that was The Kids Are All Right. And movies like The Fighter and True Grit were a bit overrated, I thought.

This is a very real and powerful movie though. A refreshing look at relationships after so many "happily ever after" stories.

Gosling and Williams did do very good in this movie. I knew Gosling would do great, and I'm not too sure he didn't at least deserve an Oscar nod. Williams surprised me though and did very well. Her nomination is warranted. Though she still didn't do better than Portman, so I see no chance of her winning that.

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