Director: Derek Cianfrance
Screenplay: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Waldyka and John Donman
Blue Valentine was Derek Cianfrance’s first collaboration with Ryan Gosling, they would go on work together on the crime drama “Place beyond the Pines”. Derek Cianfrance’s inspiration for the film came from his own experience of his parents divorcing when he was 20. Derek was so devastated by the separation that he wanted to make a film exploring how relationships begin and end. The fact that this film is based off a personal experience is evident as this film achieves a very realistic and believable look and feel.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) now some time in their marriage are starting to feel the negative effects of the life they have built together, this now causes them to become very distant to one and other. They now begin to fear that their spark and love for each other has evaporated. Reminiscing now becomes a frequent indulgence for Cindy and Dean as they look back at a time when their relationship was filled optimism and promise.
Before I get into my review of Blue Valentine I have to say I went into Blue Valentine with a totally wrong impression of it. I was scrolling through Netflix and under the crime section I saw Blue Valentine, had a quick glance at the director and cast (not the description) and thought: “Blue Valentine, great ominous title, it has Ryan Gosling always a winner and the director of Place beyond the Pines. This could be good if not better than Place beyond the Pines, aye this has to be given a go.” Blue Valentine is definitely not a crime drama but this did not effect my view on the film, it is 100% as the tag line says “A love story”. Now its not that I hate romance films I am just slightly apprehensive when it comes to them. This is because generally they all follow the same generic structure: Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they want to spend the rest of their lives together, they face a formidable barrier in their relationship which nearly breaks it, they overcome it and live happily ever after. Refreshingly Blue Valentine does not follow this structure it places more emphasis on the problems and tensions on the relationship, while using flashbacks to convey the falling in love section. However I did find Blue Valentine to be lethargic at times, especially the first half hour. I felt the tension could have been built faster. What also surprised me about Blue Valentine is its dark tone conveyed by it’s high age rating. This enhances the authentic feel of the film and distinguishes itself from the numerous fairy-tale romance films. The lead performers are simply outstanding. Ryan Gosling again shows his versatility from psychopaths (Only God Forgives, Drive), to a hilarious bachelor (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and on this occasion just an average exhausted man who is facing difficulties in his marriage. Michelle Williams equals Gosling’s performance as she effectively conveys her character’s transition from a girl with hopes and dreams to a beleaguered house wife. Just as a side note when watching the film be aware of the consistant use of blue. Sometimes it is subtle whilst at other times it is obvious. The use of blue makes some scenes incredibly atmospheric.
Even though I am not romance film’s biggest advocate it did not stop me from enjoying a well-crafted film, with two solid lead performances. I would urge people who are like me averse to romantic films to look past the genre and enjoy this emotional, moving tale of a failing love.