BLUE VALENTINE Review

Relationships truly are an interesting aspect of our lives. One could ultimately question why, after seeing so many others fail at it, we still find it necessary to find someone to be with. We all know everything will be great in the beginning, but we also know that over time, the likelihood of most of that freshness fading is pretty high. Why then, would we want to put ourselves through that? For what? Children maybe? Or does it simply come down to the idea that the good moments outweigh the bad? Love is an interesting concept, it is the topic of more movies and songs than probably any other subject, but why? Why has the human race become so wrapped up in this single idea of finding one other person to spend your life with? These are the kinds of thoughts and questions "Blue Valentine" sent running through my head.


The film, apparently a labor of love for both the director Derek Cianfrance and its stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, has been a long time in the making. It is a simple yet very complex film at the same time (which is how most relationships are anyway). The story of how two people meet with pure bliss between them is inter cut with the sad downfall of the relationship after years of dysfunction have finally taken its toll. Both Gosling as Dean and Williams as Cindy are terrific. They only had a month in between shooting the honeymoon phase of the relationship and the years later fizzled out romance they had settled into, but both look as if they had put on years of stress and depression. Gosling allows his slim physique to slouch and his hair to recede while his whole state of mind has gone from quirky worldview to a warped and condescending air that questions everything and every motive for anything his wife does. Williams has the gift of being able to convey so many emotions and thoughts with a single facial expression. Her Cindy is a lost young girl who allowed herself to fall in and out of relationships with too many men. She finds a place of comfort in Dean's young arms but she has grown tired of his seemingly childish behavior. It was with that kind of ignorance and optimism that made him want to be with her in the first place though. Cindy matures, she wants more, while Dean is kind of stuck in any one else's sense of the word, but is completely content with where he is and what he's doing.

What I really enjoyed about the film though was it's layers of complexity while on the surface being nothing more than a simple love story. There is nothing seemingly right about this relationship in the beginning, sure they click and the scenes of them getting to know one another are genuine in the truest sense of the word, they truly show the process of how two people could fall so easily for one another. But there is never any convention of a moment that makes the statement of "these two were meant to be together". No, as far as we're concerned Cindy could have ended up with her previous boyfriend and by all accounts had a similar experience to the one she does with Dean or maybe even a better one. There is no manufactured sweetness here, it is a raw look at what a relationship is when the pressures of the real world are more than the connection between those people can withstand.

I am not doubting any and every relationship, but "Blue Valentine" tells a story that has no doubt happened countless times and it tells it in the most moving and heartbreaking of ways. The relationship in the film doesn't define love, though it does make us ask ourselves those questions of why we place such a high value on an emotion that can bring us so much pain. "Blue Valentine" is a story of failed love, in the most beautiful of ways a film can be made about heartbreak. We feel it, we experience the recognition of that emotion making itself present between these two people and we see that feeling completely disappear. It begs the question if love is even worth taking as risk on and it makes a case for both sides. And like in life, Cindy must decide whether the better times will outweigh the worse or if any of it was ever worth it at all.