Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blue Valentine

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, a fairy tale ending, that's the Hollywood way. Not this time baby. It's the story of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), and begins in the present day. Dean and Cindy are a married couple with a young daughter. They've lost their dog and it's evident from the beginning that the marriage is in trouble. Dean instigates a night away from them, in a sleazy motel, booking 'The Future Room'. I love these motels, I've only ever seen them in the movies, but they're a hoot. Cindy reluctantly agrees. It is here that the marriage irrevicably breaks down. In between the scenes set in the present, the film is interspersed with flashbacks to the past, and how this dysfunctional couple came to be. Both of these two have come from broken homes. Dean failed to finish high school and drifts between any job where he can spend time with his family and start drinking at eight in the morning. Cindy was raised in a broken home where the parents didn't separate. Her father was aggressive and hostile, and their relationship isn't that much better now. Cindy had a difficult romance before Dean, but she did well in school and was studying to be a doctor, although it's not clear I don't think she did become a Dr, I think she only made it to nurse (I'm allowed to say that, being a nurse myself!) This is a very painful real film to watch. There is no blame assigned to either person particularly. They are both portrayed as fragile humans, with good and bad characteristics to bring to the marriage. It is quite heartbreaking that in the middle of this despair, it cuts to how wonderful it was when they first met, so full of hope as it always is. I loved the scene where he's playing the ukelele and singing a hauntingly appropriate song in the shop front and she's dancing. There are some really lovely attentions to detail. His absolute kindness to the old man he's helping to move into an old people's home. Her extremely dark choice of joke when they meet on the bus. The scenes where Dean tries to instigate love making are particularly hard to watch. Ryan Gosling is a gifted actor, who makes the character of Dean sympathetic and likeable whilst still making you want to shake this man-child. Michelle Williams is good. The only trouble I have is that she appears to be quite vacuous and her aspiring to be a doctor just didn't ring true. She doesn't portray intellingence well, put it like that. She reminds me of Scarlet Johannsson in this way, although at least she doesn't try and constantly look sexy for the camera. It's a sad and beautiful film, reminding us just how fragile love is. Most people who have ever been in a long term relationship that has ended will connect with this film to a larger or lesser extent. There will also be a very lucky few who will not be able to relate to it at all. But only a very few. BLUE VALENTINE: No amount of chocolates or flowers will bring this union back. 7/10

1 comment:

  1. Another one to look forward to (sort of) It sounds sad and poignant. The end of any serious relationship is a terrible, painful & drawn out process. If they've managed to portray it as well as you say, I'm taking tissues! Love love love xoxo