Blue Valentine ~ (USA, 2010) ~ In Theaters

At the opposite end of the spectrum from a film like The King’s Speech, I’d submit there’s Derek Cianfrance’s raw and painful to watch film of a couple that has come to the end of its shelf-life. Blue Valentine, told in a cross-cut back and forth style, the film does a good job in showing what the couple had at one time, and consequently what they are in the process of losing.

One of the lovelier scenes has Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) at an early stage of their budding romance. As they stroll down the street one night, just getting to know one another, Cindy asks Dean if he dances. Yes, but does she? Then she tap dances as Dean strums on a ukulele and sings. There’s a real chemistry between them. Cross cut to the now, and where has the chemistry gone?

I was back and forth on that. Whose fault is the impending failure we see on the screen? It’s hard to say. As hard as relationships are to maintain in the real world. It may be that they were really just incompatible after all. People change and grow, and we can’t control that, as much as Dean laments that he’ll do anything to save the relationship. Even as he says he’ll change, “whatever it takes”, we know that’s not realistic.

Both Gosling and Williams are great here, but I’d have to say the script fails them. Not that a script of this type would be an easy one. It may be – and I may have this all wrong, that much of it is improvised. It had moments of a Cassavetes feel. If that is the case, Gosling’s improv skills are a little redundant.

This is an “art” film, so I can’t see it making a big splash at the box office. Hopefully it’ll garner some support come award time.

“You always hurt the one you love”. Maybe it’s that the ones  you don’t love cannot be hurt by you.


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