BluRay/DVD Reviews

BLUE VALENTINE

By • Jul 17th, 2011 •

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BLUE VALENTINE is a sad film. Half way through, I asked myself why I had thought it was a good idea to watch a film about the demise of a relationship? The jury is still out on that one.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as Dean and Cindy, a young married couple whose relationship is imploding. It is clear from the first few moments of the film that Cindy is not happy and is just going through the motions. It doesn’t even seem as though she likes Dean, let alone loves him. What makes this extremely heartbreaking is that not only is it clear that Dean loves Cindy, but he knows that she has slipped away from him and he’s not ready to let her or their family go. Yes that’s right. If you thought the story couldn’t get any sadder, they have a young precocious and adorable daughter Frankie played by Faith Wladyka. Frankie is a daddy’s girl and Dean worships the ground she walks on. He wants to save his marriage for his daughter and for himself. To try to salvage their relationship, Dean takes Cindy to a hotel for the night to rekindle the passion they once had for each other. How easy is that to do in a tacky, futuristic-themed hotel room? Not very. Cindy is over Dean and recoils at his very touch.

Director and Screenwriter Derek Cianfrance tells this love story in an interesting and innovative way. As we are shown the end of the relationship in present time, we are also shown flashbacks of the two coming together and falling in love. The past and present happen simultaneously. Each romantic memory of the past is partnered with the awful truth of the present. There is no point in routing for Cindy and Dean to make it work and find happiness again. Cindy’s unhappiness in the present totally outweighs any romantic memory of the past.

Is BLUE VALENTINE an accurate depiction of a love gone south? Some say yes. Cindy and Dean meet when they are really young; they have a brief courtship, fall in love, get pregnant, and marry. He’s uneducated; he didn’t even graduate high school, and she finds it adorable because he has so many other hidden talents. Dean thinks she’s beautiful and smart. It’s love at first sight for him. He never wanted to marry and have children, but once Cindy finds she’s pregnant from a previous relationship, he steps up. Why? He loves her that much.

There is a particular scene in which Cindy decides to keep the baby and she gives Dean an out. He doesn’t take it. Most guys watching the scene were probably screaming at him to take the out. When I watched the scene, I was screaming for Cindy to create an out for herself.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were phenomenal in the film, but I didn’t quite understand what brought these two people together. Yes Dean was attractive, but it was abundantly clear that nothing was going on upstairs. He had no ambition or drive. Cindy was sweet and attractive, but how many guys would raise another man’s baby with a woman they practically just met? Is love that blind? It must be. I guess sometimes it takes time to see the things you chose to look away from.

In the end I felt more empathetic towards Dean. He tried his hardest to keep Cindy, even though in some instances she was emotionally cruel to him. I truly felt he loved her. Dean never pretended to be anybody other than who he was. It was just sad that Cindy no longer found that person desirable.

The special features on this disc includes: The Making of BLUE VALENTINE featurette, director commentary, deleted scenes, and a little home movie entitled FRANKIE AND THE UNICORN. The Making of BLUE VALENTINE is worth taking a look, though my personal favorite is FRANKIE AND THE UNICORN. Frankie stars as herself, Cindy as the unicorn, and Dean as it’s doctor. It’s a wonderfully funny and charming family interaction that first started out as an exercise for the actors to get to know one another and become a family. Well, kudos to the actors because it was a job well done. That’s why it was so heartbreaking to see it all end.

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