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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.09.10] movie review news drama

Year: 2010
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows that they’re hard. They take work, commitment and stamina and sometimes, it still doesn’t work. It’s a fact of life and for the most part, films don’t take on this subject and if they do, it often comes across as glossy, half hearted and false.

That’s not the case with Derek Cianfrance’s second feature Blue Valentine which has recently been in the limelight not for the film’s merits but rather for the MPAA’s slapping (and then overturning) of an NC-17 rating. Unfortunate considering that Blue Valentine is likely one of the best relationship dramas of the last few years, one that bears the heart and soul of its actors and rips into the heart of viewers with its raw power.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are Dean and Cindy, a couple who has reached a stalemate in their relationship. They argue constantly, nitpick each other’s faults and it seems the only thing keeping them together is their daughter. We’re then taken back to the beginning of their relationship and we see how Dean and Cindy met and how these two very different people (he’s a wondered, she’s pragmatic) came to be together.

From here, Cianfrance and editors Jim Helton and Ron Patane work their magic, inter cutting scenes of the present and the past to build a beautiful and heartbreaking look at a relationship with so much potential that was simply not meant to be. I love that we get to see things as outsiders peeking into this relationship rather than through the eyes of either of the individuals involved. This point of view allows for a more objective look at the relationship and surprisingly, makes the emotional hit that much poignant as along the way, we feel for both parties equally. That’s not to say that as an objective viewer, there isn’t the tendency to feel for one character more than another but Cianfrance has achieved something special here, providing clarity of distance while maintaining a strong emotional connection.

In addition to the editing and the great music (Grizzly Bear, a band I care little for, provide a fantastic soundtrack to both the rise and fall of Dean and Cindy’s relationship), much of the film’s success is the result of strong performances from both Williams and Gosling. They both embody their middle age and young counterparts beautifully with subtle changes from one age to another but Gosling provides a more complete change to the point that I hardly recognized him the first time he appeared on screen.

One of the best relationship films in recent memory, Blue Valentine isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill romance. Love isn’t constant or easy like it often appears to be and Cianfrance embraces that fact and delivers a story that is both joyful and celebratory of love and heartbreaking in its authenticity.

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Anon (9 years ago) Reply

The American humorist George Ade summed it up best back in 1899 when he said:

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been,"

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