Comments on watching and making films.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine courted a lot of controversy when it was making the film festival rounds, and was looking at a possible NC-17 rating for graphic sexual content. Cianfrance made cuts and ended up with an R, but not before winning numerous awards for the story of two people falling in love and, eventually, falling back out of love.

Ryan Gosling plays Dean, a Brooklyn furniture mover who meets Cindy (Michelle Williams), when he has to deliver an elderly mans furniture to the same rest home that Cindy's grandmother lives in. Dean falls in love at first sight, and the courting begins. As time goes on, though, there relationship begins to show evidence of the wear and tear of time.

Blue Valentine is shown in a non-linear fashion. We start off with Dean and Cindy when they've already been married for several years, and flash back and forth to them as a young couple meeting and falling in love for the first time to their love dissolving before our very eyes. Gosling and Williams love and hate each other with such passion in this movie, you would think they must have plumbed the depths of their past relationships that have dissolved (Gosling was in a long term relationship with Rachel McAdams and Williams was partners with Heath Ledger, though they broke it off before his death). Absolutely every emotion feels genuine, which makes it all the more devastating when their love turns poisonous. The films cinematography sticks in close with its characters, using close ups most of the time, which gives the audience an almost uncomfortable feeling of being right there when everything happens.

The only thing that confused me is why Cindy hated Dean so much. He never really seemed to do anything horrible, or, at least, it wasn't expressed that he did. He could be child like (not childish, which is different), but that's part of what she fell in love with in the first place, so it's confusing that she so completely hates him by the end of the film.

Barring that, though, this film was one of the most beautiful, well acted, and devastating pieces of work I have seen in a long time. If Gosling and Williams don't rack up nominations and awards for this, people don't have their eyes open. Many people won't see this film because it's "depressing", but the thing that I love about cinema is how it can bring to life, on a massive scale, the basic human problems we all face, and give us hope and conciliation and make us feel like we are not alone. That's what Blue Valentine does - For anyone who has had a relationship that started off good and went bad, for anyone who has loved someone who didn't love them back, for anyone who has fought hard to keep the things they've built, but the other person won't fight too, this film is like a best friend giving you a hug and telling you it's okay to feel the way you do.

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