Starring: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling
Written and Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Distributed by: The Weinstein Company
In Hollywood, love is almost the beginning. Two impossibly handsome characters, who after initially hating each other decide they can’t live without each other and declare their love – the more public the setting the better. Occasionally to shake things up, you’ll get a drama a la Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf? (1966) about a bitter and angry long-term couple who are miserable and clearly wrong for each other.
What makes Blue Valentine such a poignant film is the honest way it depicts a relationship. Hollywood seems to forget sometimes that life isn’t the polar opposites of ecstasy and despair. Cutting back and forth between when Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) first meet and fall in love and when their marriage is falling apart, this beautiful script by writer/director Derek Cianfrance covers it all: the highs and magical moments (yes, that includes some pretty explicit sex scenes for you girls out there trying to get your boyfriends to come along to this film) as well as the painful decisions and boring routine that really make up a life together.
It’s out this world bizarre that only Williams got nominated for an Oscar this year for her performance. While she’s absolutely amazing, Williams and Gosling carry each other throughout the film; each performance is completely dependent on the other to make the film work. It’s the best work that each actor has done to date; never once do you think that Williams used to be on Dawson’s Creek and Gosling that YTV show Breaker High. Come on you can all admit it, what Canadian in their mid twenties didn’t watch Breaker High when they were younger?
What makes the film the most heartbreaking for me is the fact that while they’re very different people, Dean and Cindy are not obviously wrong for each other. When you see how sweet they are with each other in the beginning, all the sacrifices and tenderness they show each other even at the moments when they can’t stand each other, throughout the film it’s hard not to root for these two crazy kids to work it out.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, yes, it’s obviously really sad, but I don’t think Cianfrance is at all trying to say let’s all be depressed and never fall in love. Like the great 500 days of Summer, I think the message to take away from this film is that some people are only supposed to be in our lives for a certain amount of time. And while the romantic in us wants us to believe that love is supposed to be forever, maybe it’s time we accept that it isn’t necessarily a tragedy that sometimes it’s not.