Film Review: Blue Valentine
May 15, 2011 07:08AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple
A young couple’s relationship anchors the storyline of Blue Valentine, a movie that narrowly avoided the NC-17 rating when it was released last year. The movie opens with Dean and Cindy’s disintegrating marriage but slowly begins showing flashbacks to the start of their relationship that reveal explanations behind their troubles. The troubled couple attempt to rekindle their marriage at a sleazy theme hotel on Valentine’s day, but to no one’s surprise the attempt fails.
Blue Valentine is an extremely honest look into troubled relationships, and I would be hard pressed to think of a film that has more balance in how it portrays its characters than this movie. Both Dean and Cindy are deeply-flawed people and each have a hand in the death of their relationship. At the same time both characters have good intentions in what they do and it’s easy to see from an observer's stand point each character’s point of view. For both the writer and director of this film not to at least slightly lean in one direction in favor of one character over another is one of the best balancing acts ever.
The acting in this movie is extraordinary. Both Michele Williams and Ryan Gosling are incredible as Cindy and Dean. Both actors come across as completely real, and the subtlety of their performances carries the film. There are scenes at the beginning of the film that feature Dean with his five-year-old daughter and the connection that Ryan Gosling is able to project in those scenes makes it hard to believe that the little girl was not his real life daughter. His ability to sell his love for not only Cindy, but the family life in general, really makes the unraveling of this relationship deeply moving in the end.
Despite its great performances and its craftsmanship Blue Valentine is not a fun movie to watch. It offers little in the way of hope and leaves you sad and perhaps even depressed in the end. The beginning is paced extremely slow, and the film doesn’t hit its stride until almost an hour into the movie. But once the characters have been established, the last hour of the movie carries a lot more emotional weight. I imagine Blue Valentine will carry more significance to people that have gone through divorces or break-ups of similar fashion. I think it could appeal to the “misery loves company” crowd. If you are looking for a feel good romance movie steer clear from this movie, but if you are in the mood for a nihilistic, heavy, character-driven drama then you won’t find many as good as Blue Valentine.
FILMS LIKE BLUE VALENTINE: Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Notebook and A Walk to Remember
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.