First-time director Derek Cienfrance has been trying to get “Blue Valentine” made for the last 12 years. Watching the end product, I can see why. Because I’m going to be totally honest with you: The movie destroyed me. It took any trace of positive energy or mood that I had, and smashed it to little pieces. But then, reflecting on it, I was awed. Awed at what a balancing act the very nature of the film is, awed at the amazing work from the two leads, Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams.
“Blue Valentine” has been, oddly enough for a film of its low budget, highly publicized, thanks to the MPAA’s now-revoked NC-17 rating (on account of one particularly graphic love scene). Although I am outraged and offended at their childish, stupid decision, I feel it works out eventually to the film’s benefit. After all, the controversy will probably lure more people to the film than wouldn’t otherwise bother.
“Blue Valentine”s focus is the rapidly collapsing marriage of Dean and Cindy: Dean an intelligent underachiever and Cindy a more stubborn realist. The movie intercuts between their past moments of courtship and joy, with their bitter, resentful present-day lives. This is really effective in many ways. It allows us to build an emotional foundation and understand these characters. It allows us to appreciate the extent to which their relationship falls apart, and feel for them when it does.
Gosling & Williams are just brilliant here. They both flesh out these characters in incredibly compelling yet realistic ways. They make Dean and Cindy characters that are both relatable and interesting on their own. This, of course, makes their clashing all the more painful to watch.
I’m too young to experience love, or even to truly appreciate it for what it is. I know that. But walking out of “Blue Valentine”, tears in my eyes, I felt as if I maybe knew a little more about it, as if I could feel a little deeper. And if that doesn’t speak as to a film’s greatness, what does? A