Blue Valentine (15)

Film

Romance

Blue Valentine.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Jan 11 2011

The title of this mature and moving new US indie captures the tug of war between the excitement of new love and the misery of its slow, painful death. Young American filmmaker Derek Cianfrance bats us back and forth between all sorts of emotions and moods – hot and cold, hope and despair, energy and lethargy – as he shares with us the exciting beginning and dispiriting end of the five-year marriage between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), two East Coast youngsters whose relationship is born of trauma and who go from tender sex and tap-dancing in a shop doorway to shouting at each other across the kitchen sink and wrestling drunkenly in a kitsch motel room during a desperate bid to rekindle their passion.

We meet the couple in the throes of domesticity as Dean, with the air of a kid in adult’s clothing, helps their little daughter with her breakfast while a worn-out Cindy snaps at them from the other side of the room. On the same day, their dog goes missing, prompting tears, but something else is absent too, and it’s only when the film retreats after 15 minutes or so to a not-so-distant past, where Cindy is a thinner student with ambitions to be a doctor and Dean is a less ambitious removals guy with more hair, that we begin the game of moving back and forth in time, witnessing how Dean and Cindy meet and come together – and seeing how they fall apart.

It’s a simple tale of romance found and lost made all the more powerful by its tricksy, illuminating time structure (a reminder of François Ozon’s ‘5X2’ or Mike Leigh’s ‘Career Girls’) and the performances of two of America’s finest young actors. Williams, especially, is on sensitive form as Cindy: she gives an intelligent physical performance, whether acting warily towards Dean’s advances, experiencing genuine passion or feeling repulsed at her husband’s touch as she clenches her fists during an embrace.

The film has hipster leanings – Dean runs with a trendy trucker look and strums a ukulele, while the soundtrack features new songs by Grizzly Bear – but Cianfrance steers clear of the film’s more quirky potential and holds a steely focus on feelings and behaviour. He’s helped, too, by strong cinematography (especially during a scene in a futuristic, blue-lit motel room) that subtly stresses the conflicting atmospheres of the film’s two time zones.

There’s a lightness to the whole enterprise – loose direction, easy dialogue, gentle editing – that sits well with the heaviness of the material. The film’s episodic structure means that it’s heavy on events and emoting, but it’s not all extreme joy or misery, and there are lovely scenes between Cindy and her grandmother and between Dean and an old man who he helps move into a care home. It’s a bittersweet, affecting film that screams of smart minds both behind and in front of the camera.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jan 14, 2011

Duration:

114 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Derek Cianfrance

Screenwriter:

Derek Cianfrance

Cast:

Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|12
1 person listening
unimpressed filmgoer

I watched this on DVD last week, and really disliked it. I agree with a lot of the reviews here, in that it was poorly scripted and there seemed to be a lot of improvisation. Both characters were hard to sympathise with and the only compelling performance I thought was that of their daughter! Maybe it was because it was the most authentic? I think this film has been immensely over-rated. (Is it a "guy" movie, perhaps? I say this because of all the nude scenes of Michelle Williams, which I also found off-putting. I am not a guy) I agree with Phil Ince about the vanity project, and also with Mike, and I'm not surprised people walked out of the cinema. I'm glad I didn't have to sit through this on the big screen.

scrumpyjack

Why thank you mike. I look forward to your views too, as you know. But that's enough love! Sadly no where to be seen down my way til dvd...and I can only say that this reflected my sorry experiances (cut to the chase..."modern" women!) clearer than just about anything I can recall. Gosling (brilliant) is a "flop" I suppose, but did he promise her anything different? The "TELL ME what do you want?" near the end is heart rendering (I did it pretty much for more years than I care to recall) and the coldness he faces (in revenge for her fathers coldness?) struck me like a bucket of ice water. But all this is reasonably easy to do so what's different here? A simple, honest, excuse free vibe is what. Williams SHOULD have grabbed the Oscar, as should have Gosling (Firth superb, Ryan SUPERIOR!) and when ever I feeling lonely and a tad jealous of the couples I see.....I'll put this on...and comfort myself that I no longer have to suffer such torment at bitches whims! Oh, Im sure that goes for many females too, so let us all celebrate this piece! 8/10

Rachael

Absolutely loved it - so refreshing to see something that isn't over exposed and massively produced. Very moving and sad, was very close to home. Michelle Williams is up for the Oscar, so need i say more but to be honest, they both should be up for the Oscar, Ryan is amazing.

Rachael

Absolutely loved it - so refreshing to see something that isn't over exposed and massively produced. Very moving and sad, was very close to home. Michelle Williams is up for the Oscar, so need i say more but to be honest, they both should be up for the Oscar, Ryan is amazing.

david

Poorly scripted,so the film and plot wobbles a lot.The misery is just too gratuitous.However the acting is outstanding.Puts Firth's performance in the shade.Whorthy film but does not really work

Mike

With a great deal of justification, Michelle Williams played whiney wife to Heath Ledger’s two-timing bisexual husband in Brokeback Mountain. However, in Blue Valentine it’s extremely hard to understand why Williams is constantly whining – perhaps the pinched, pained expression is all she’s capable of. . Although the relationship between the characters played by Williams and Gosling is explored in some detail across five or six years in this film, it’s unclear why Williams keeps saying she “can’t take it any more�. As far as I could see, Gosling plays nice, relaxed, jokey, extremely caring husband (most likely taking on another man’s unborn child when they wed) to Williams’ uptight nag. I thought the script and characterisation in this film were very poor. I was expecting much more from a film that has been Oscar nominated – in my opinion this film is pure list filler. I looked at my watch several times. I noticed the audience fidget, and two people left. This film’s a bit of an endurance test, and it’s difficult to see how anyone involved in this movie will walk away with any serious gongs this season. If you decide to see this one, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. PS The near-abortion scene is grim, and nearly had me walking out – be warned. Two (generous) stars. It'll be interesting to see what (regulars on this site) Scrumpyjack and Archgate make of this film.

Andy R

Maybe you have to be a little older to really like this film. Its like your whole life up on the screen. One of the truest movies i have seen in a long while. Life is like this. Everyone is to blame and its nobodies fault.

Andy R

Maybe you have to be a little older to really like this film. Its like your whole life up on the screen. One of the truest movies i have seen in a long while. Life is like this. Everyone is to blame and its nobodies fault.

David Bauckham

I went to see this film with high expectations, which diminished rapidly as the movie progressed. The central problem concerns the charmlessness of the central characters, especially Ryan Gosling, who has a boorish side as well. The "loose, easy dialogue" described above is in fact lazily written and repetitous (in one infuriating sequence Ryan Gosling stands shouting "open the door" about 50 times) . The only attempt at lightness is when Michelle Williams dances to Gosling's ukelele in a shop doorway, but this just ends up looking false and contrived, a calculated "sweet moment" that falls flat, like the rest of the film

Phil Ince

I'd agree with everything in this review but only give it a strong 3 stars. There are moments which suggest some of the success is accidental. The cliche of the father who is introduced to us as an angry man at a dinner table who insults his wife's food; that's it - his character study. The meeting of Cindy and Dean in a care home doorway seems simply to forget that there's a 3rd person present (the grandmother) and plays quite a long scene having to pretend that the woman would forget and the man ignore her. It seems trivial but it's a prolonged truthless minute where the convenience of the film overrides authentic human behaiour. The film did seem to show more than it needed to of the relationship between the leads when there were rich picking to be had in the influence on them of the surrounding family. Very well acted (and sometimes feeling improvised) but I did wonder if it wasn't a sort of vanity project for the actors.