Blue Valentine is a story of every person who has faced the music of disharmony in love and relationships. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams feature as Dean and Cindy in this marital drama of emotional evolution, a not-so love story. Co-written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine is a raw presentation of the natural renovations of human sentiments that change our selves, relationships, and our lives. The most alarming quotient is the reality base Derek Cianfrance assigns each character, the story, and executes the movie with amplified insistence—making Blue Valentine an honest movie.
We start with the characters of Dean and Cindy attempting to relate to us. A man in his mid-30s, with his hair sliding backwards, who has a daughter, and looks deranged for some reason. The woman in the show puts the mask of a typical middle-aged working person—caring and soft enough for anybody to consider her an angel, but with a vindictive and resentful inside for reasons only women understand.
The initial scenes do not move along rapidly and keeps you interested in what’s going on. Only when we see a younger Dean—full of energy, charisma, and honesty that never fades—does the movie catapult into the oblivion of marital bliss. The non-linear execution is pleasingly engaging. Perhaps the one statement that justifies all that Dean assimilates comes rather early on when Dean says, “They (women) spend their whole lives looking for Prince Charming, and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and sleeps around!”
This statement speaks volumes about the nature of the film. It’s not so—that Cindy wants somebody with a good job. It’s not that simple. When Dean comes into Cindy’s life, she’s in desperate need of change and seeks to relate to somebody, with somebody because of the way she’d observed her parents, their life, and the impact of their discord in her life. Enter Dean – he fills that void of instability within Cindy.
As years pass by, Cindy gets the stability she wants from Dean. Dean is a simple guy. He won’t surprise you. He isn’t ambitious. He is who he is. On the other hand, Cindy keeps on evolving—growing out of the phase that brought her to Dean. She matures as a woman, with her fondness of Dean diminishing as her ideals change. She expects Dean to evolve along with her, matching her stride, but that’s not going to happen because we need a conflict!
Not really though – because Dean is just an ordinary guy, with ordinary aspirations. He’s happy with his family, his job, and his life. But, his inability to match Cindy’s march towards maturity brings complications in their lives. Cindy is a doctor now. She’s a professional and alongside likeminded people, she doesn’t really feel that she needs Dean anymore. There’s a void present in here now, again. This time, Dean can’t fill it. But, what about Dean’s void? She doesn’t seem to care! Selfish, yes – but that’s life I suppose.
Blue Valentine makes ample uses of delicately timed dramatics to further the story and actualize the dwindling point of view of these characters. In one instance, in the heat of the moment, Dean and Cindy decide to tie the knot—driving from Cindy’s pregnancy from her ex-boyfriend Bobby (Mike Vogel). Another similar subtle, beautiful pointing is how Cianfrance depicts the same expressions as something extraordinarily idyllic at one point, then pointless, even cruel, down the lane.
Watching the movie, it feels so close to reality. Cianfrance films it as a revelation, a journey that has been undertaken countless times to the same result, yet people persist to undertake it because the initial buzz and the later, the nostalgia is so soothing. I believe this is where Cianfrance gets the precious diamonds as he builds the story without melodrama, with realism, and with a deep observation of relationships as they progress—packaging all of this together into one powerful drama on evolving individuality amidst relationships.
The marquee facet of the movie, undeniably, stands as the mammoth performances of Ryan Gosling as Dean and Michelle Williams as Cindy. In what was a basic story, touching, had it not been for the emphatic portrayals of the characters of Dean and Cindy, the entire movie could have fallen flat on its backside—possibly coming out with a broken back.
Observing Cindy, one could see and feel the crossroads she stands on. Her eyes speak of the frustrations inside her. Looking at Dean, there are only expressions of a confused man in a confused state—not knowing what to do as he’s left far behind in this race. The complexities in the characterization ultimately enrich the movie as a dramatic spectacle engulfing one of Gosling and Williams’ strongest performances.
Blue Valentine is depressing. It’s one of those movies that inoculate you with a feeling of doom and gloom once you’re done watching. A story of decadence, it emphasizes the degenerative aspects of relationships—borrowing an intense episode from the lives of two people brought together by need and separated by necessity.
With two potent performances, a gripping screenplay (Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne, and Joey Curtis), and an astonishing exposé of melancholic love, Blue Valentine isn’t a date movie, but a hard-hitting showing of reality and the adjoining ruins accompanying time and fate. A dismal movie, in a positive sense, the treatment is subtle, the content is strong, and the emotions run high. This one is for the collections.