Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blue Valentine (2010)

While watching Blue Valentine I became engrossed in the characters.  Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play Dean and Cindy.  The movie is divided into past and present.  We are shown how the two met and the circumstances that lead up to their marriage.  The other half of the film is how they deal with the marriage falling apart.  Director Derek Cianfrance does this in increments throughout the film, and he weaves it all together nicely.  First off the performances by Gosling and Williams are dead on, and you can see that they really inhabited the characters, and made them their own.  The film is 112 minutes and in some way I feel that it goes on a bit too long.  I'm not saying I hated it for its length what I didn't like is the pacing of it.  It felt a bit too showy for me and that the actors and the director were trying just a bit too hard.

In the story the couple have fallen into a rut, and both seem complicit in the marriages demise, but for there to be so much drama in the story seemed like the writers were putting everything but the kitchen sink into the film.  Cindy's problem is that Dean seems to be happy with just being, and he seems to have no ambitions.  He is a man who works as a painter, and a mover at times, and though he seems to have other talents he does not use them.  He is happy to be in a family helping to raise his daughter, and love his wife.   I don't know if this is so much of a problem.  Dean's character seems to be a straight up decent guy.  Now there are other factors that may make Dean something of a problem, but the movie only hints of these problems.  One is his drinking.  He does not come off as an alcholic, or an abuser of liquor, but in an argument with Cindy he dismisses it as occasional.  In the end he does show up drunk at Cindy's work, and things escalate from there, but again I didn't see all of Dean's faults.

Cindy on the other and seems happy when they marry as we see in clips, but somewhere something changes in her.  Her Grandma plays a significant part in her life, and in the beginning she talks about falling in love and how does it feel.  I really liked the scenes with Grandma played by Jen Jones and Michelle Williams.  I felt that there was something left out that we needed to know.  We see that Cindy's home life is not that of Ozzie and Harriet.  It seems that both her mother and father have a rocky marriage and one were arguments happen more then talk.

Like I said we as the audience we are given clues, and glimpses of where these characters come from, yet everything doesn't add up to the total melt down of Cindy and Dean's marriage.  I've heard that the script had been re-written several times due to other actors being involved.  Maybe something got lost, but there seems to be something missing.

Don't get me wrong I kind of liked seeing this film.  It's a hard film to sit through.  The performances seems very real, and I really thing Ryan Gosling should get a nod for his performance as Dean.  Ms Williams is already nominated for an Oscar, and to leave Gosling out seems wrong.    Originally the film got an NC-17 rating due to explicit sexual content, but I don't see where.  I thought the scenes between the two were original and pretty raw and honest.  The camera is always in close-up and we watch the emotions on the actors face, and feel their emotions.  These scenes make the film so reverting to watch.

It true that I did want to see Cindy and Dean get it together and pull through as a couple, and there is a scene towards the end with Gosling as his daughter tells him to stay which is just heartbreaking.  But then maybe the film wouldn't be as honest as it is.  I so wanted to stay longer and see what happens to Dean and Cindy, and maybe that's the movies true meaning.  Life does not always have happy endings.

A note about the cinematography here.  The past performances were filmed on film, while the present day was shot on digital video.  Derek Cianfrance does this so well, and the blending of the two mediums give a feeling of different times between the characters.  I don't know if it is the color or just the way it feels but the two distinct time periods give two emotional vibes that the director uses very effectively.

All in all I really liked the film, and I can't say I hated it.  The performances are strong, the production value is beautiful, and the the characters are people you might know, which brought it home for me.  If you get a chance see the film, and see for yourself.  I have this one warning though.  After watching it you will think differently, and the characters will stay with you for some time after the movie, and maybe that's a good thing.

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