|The Power of Inevitability||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Blue Valentine is an unrelentingly realistic movie. This is not to say it’s bleak or cynical. It’s just events play out just as they would in real life, and the feeling of is almost unbearable. By the end I was all but begging for an injection of Hollywood cheese, some Deus Ex Machina that might save the characters from their fate. However I am glad that I was disappointed. This movie derives all its power from being so possible. Its just reality is a hard thing to watch.
This is not to say that the story isn’t meant to be difficult. Blue Valentine charts the beginning and end of the relationship of its main characters. Dean (Ryan Gosling) is an artistic, charming individual, if somewhat immature. Cindy (Michelle Williams), his wife, is the capable, organised one in their Odd Couple, though she is not neurotic. Rather she is driven, by responsibilities, by ambitions, and cannot comprehend the laidback behaviour of her husband. The film introduces us to these characters at the close of their marriage, then starts to switch focus back and forth between this point and the start of their relationship. I felt this storytelling device was for the most part well handled. It’s never confusing as to which time the story is in at any point, and the switches between are pretty smooth. The story also unfolds at the perfect pace, never feeling rushed or dragged out. But this did not make it any easier to watch.
The main reason of course that I found it so hard was how much empathy I felt with the characters as their lives fell apart. The acting here is top notch. Gosling and Williams both put on very convincing performances, impressive considering the range and depth of the emotions they need to convey. The scripting also should be mentioned because of how well developed both characters are, even down to minor quirks of behaviour. It is a rare thing in a movie to have two such three-dimensional characters. Being able to understand them, it is all too easy to sympathise with them.
But what is even more impressive is that you find yourself sympathising with each partner almost equally. There is no bad guy in this relationship, just two people who simply are not right for each other. Admittedly I ended up feeling worse for Dean, but then I have a greater resemblance to him than to Cindy, who I still empathised with. The upshot of this is that neither of these people deserves what happens to them. This might even be why Blue Valentine feels so real.
There are a couple of other things worth mentioning. One is the competency of the child actress Faith Wladyka in playing the couples’ daughter Frankie. She is quite honestly a delight on screen, funny as only a young child can be, and she works excellently with the two adult leads. The other is a small gripe about camerawork, which is on a couple of occasions irritatingly shaky. It doesn’t ruin any important scenes, but is still quite annoying when it shows up.
So, to conclude, Blue Valentine is an incredibly competent movie charting events almost too real for comfort. And yet the fact that it does is perfect. Too often is romance in film relegated to the romcom and its need to have a happy ending. The plain fact is that romantic feelings and relationships are incredibly complicated things, and quite often this is overlooked in film. The absence of such simplicity here makes this film harder to watch, but in turn makes watching it utterly worthwhile.
Video Feature: January 2011 Releases
January...movies are coming out.
Blue Valentine Trailer
This tale of romance between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams got huge buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
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