Sundance 2010 Review: BLUE VALENTINE with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams


Blue Valentine is the story of love found and lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage.


The magical and fate like constructs of love, and the slow decay of a relationship is slowly given to us like puzzle pieces to reveal a picture that many of us aren't willing to accept when it comes to the subject of love; reality. Much like 500 Days of Summer (minus the comedy and whimsical frills) Blue Valentine brilliantly cross-cuts between periods in a couple's relationship to show how a couple connects and disconnects, loves and hates, and as they go through the motions of a relationship that has lost its flame.

The story of Dean and Cindy is an all too common one. Even in a relationship where each partner is faithful to one another, and these characters are, love can still slowly and surely deteriorate. It's like watching clips of an athlete in their prime, and clips of them as their abilities just aren't what they used to be later in their career. It's not that they weren't once great, but time is a factor that can't be ignored.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give unbelievable performances. The passage of time is seamlessly executed in the look of actors and in their performances. Gosling's performance is a force to be reckoned with. You can really see more of what time has done to him. His body language and mannerisms are so realistically different, going from scrappy and fearless, to short-fused and unmotivated. Even the slight Brooklyn accent he had in his youth is subdued in the older portrayal as well. But it takes two to make this believable, and the explosive (in a good and bad way) chemistry Gosling has with Williams on screen is spot on. You see why and how Cindy falls for Dean, but a solid or damning offense to have her fall out of love isn't shown, because it doesn't exist.

I don't know how well this film  will do commercially. Hollywood loves happy endings, and this movie just ends. I'm not saying it's a sad ending, I'm just being upfront that no loose ends are tied. Derek Cianfrance has created something that will be discussed and dissected for years to come. He took the most honest and realistic route as possible in bringing this story to the screen, and it stays with you long after you have left the theatre. Love can be one sided, but a functional marriage can't.

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