Blue Valentine is a brilliant study of character and tells a compelling story of an apprehensive marriage and the two partners involved.
It features spectacular performances by the two lead roles Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Their performances are sincere and they both portray a distinct vulnerability which adds to the relationship between the couple and their outcomes within the film.
Michelle Williams plays a fragile nurse, Cindy, who is the mother of a young daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka), and seems to be the partner in the relationship who is suffering from doubt and reservations towards the marriage.
Ryan Gosling on the other hand plays Dean – an assumingly self-assured individual, who provides not only a fair amount of wit and humour to the film, but he too is vulnerable and susceptible to portraying his emotions, and a drink or two.
The film does, however, lack real direction and perhaps doesn’t achieve too much in terms of the story-line. However, I don’t believe that’s what Hollywood rookie and director Derek Cianfrance (Brother Tied – his only other feature film) wanted. It’s very much a character-based production which focuses mainly on the two leads, and their relationship and rapport between one another.
It’s also quite a brave move by Hollywood, as there hasn’t been such a realistic portrayal of contemporary relationships and dynamics that prevail, for a good long while. It’s intense at times and takes a terribly pragmatic view on relationships, particularly the common preconceptions of long-term marriages.
Another portrayal of the acting credentials of the two leads was revealed in the flashbacks played throughout the movie. Despite both being only young themselves, there were flashbacks of around six years previous to the present day, and not only were their hair-cuts altered (Dean eventually becomes a bit bald) but their performances also. The way both Williams and Gosling performed in different stages in their character’s lives was fantastic and incredibly realistic. Compared to the flashbacks, they played as their present-day selves as much more vulnerable characters, devoid somewhat of the confidence and aura they both originally possessed, particularly that of Dean.
Blue Valentine is not a classic film, but it will be remembered as being a very well-acted and well-made film, which features two gifted actors in Gosling and Williams. Particularly Williams who has impressed in various films in recent years (Shutter Island, Brokeback Mountain) and her performance as Cindy in Blue Valentine is arguably her best yet.
If you want Christmas cheer over the festive period, perhaps give Blue Valentine a miss, but if you want to see a poignant, and in some cases quite moving feature then there won’t be many better to go and see.