Archive for Blue Valentine

Movie Review: This is one “Blue Valentine” I wish was red

Posted in Drama, Movie Review with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by judsonw

Is it possible to fall out of love? This is a question that is both asked and seemingly answered in the heartbreaking romance “Blue Valentine.” The film, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple at the end of their destructive marriage, is finally being released across the country after its extremely well-received debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Gosling is Dean, a charming but dim high school drop out who meets the girl of his dreams while helping out at a moving company. That girl is Cindy (Williams), a pre-med college student stuck living with her dysfunctional parents, all the while trapped in an unhealthy relationship. Love doesn’t strike instantly, but the two form a deep connection once certain solemn events bring them closer together. Their love is contagious, which makes the eventual dissolution of their relationship all the more painful.

What makes director Derek Cianfrance’s feature debut so unique and memorable is the way it is conveyed. Instead of portraying Dean and Cindy’s growing apart chronologically, the film shifts back and forth in time during the several years they are together. In one scene, Cindy can’t stand to look at Dean as he carries their young daughter. In the next, the two blissfully perform a song and dance number with a ukulele in the early morning hours outside a bridal shop in Brooklyn. The juxtaposition of the different stages of the relationship is so startling that it is hard to believe the same couple is being depicted on screen. While the film flashes back to happier times, the present day married Dean and Cindy try to convalesce their relationship on a weekend night in a sex motel. The scenes that ensue in this setting are almost unbearable to watch as something that is so rarely presented in mainstream movies is on display: raw human emotion. The flashbacks to the couple’s happier moments offer glimmers of hope to an otherwise disheartening story.

This concurrence of the characters’ pre-marital courtship and post-marriage doldrums is evidenced even more so from Cianfrance’s use of different cameras for each stage of the relationship. All the pre-marriage scenes were filmed using Super 16mm cameras while all the post-marriage scenes were filmed using Red One digital cameras. While this change in style shifts the mood of each scene, it also gives off the impression of two different movies occurring concurrently.

“Blue Valentine” would not be nearly as successful without the captivating and deep performances from Gosling and Williams. The two make up the film’s emotional core, and their unusual veracity makes it easy to forget that these are actors depicting characters. The believability of the couple may be thanks to Gosling and Williams’ utter dedication to their roles. Before filming took place, the actors staged out arguments in a shared home, living on the budgets that their respective characters would encompass. These transformations led to a chemistry between the two, while not always positive, that was further strengthened by improvised dialogue during the majority of the movie’s runtime.

“Blue Valentine” is by no means an enjoyable or easy film to watch. It portrays something many of us are familiar with: the complex and sometimes heartrending process of falling in and out of love. But it also shows the pure delight and blissful times that process brings.

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