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Is romantic love the ultimate form of masochism?
dharmendrasingh1 February 2011
Director Derek Cianfrance may wish to stop wasting his talent on TV and make films his full time occupation. Cinema could use him. His 'Blue Valentine' studies the breakdown of a marriage through beautiful and heartbreaking juxtaposed scenes of past joy and optimism with present scenes of misery and depression. Flitting back and forth in the marriage, it asks: Is romantic love the ultimate form of masochism?

Fine young actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play Dean and Cindy, who unite through a dogged courtship. Dean is easy-going, happy-go-lucky and content in his removal and packing company. He is chary of formal education, but has a philosopher's outlook. Cindy is sexually over-active and, although occasionally frolicsome, is more mature than Dean. About five years on, romance becomes repulsion, and their marriage becomes one of inconvenience.

Make no mistake, this is uncomfortable viewing – not the sex, which serves the story quite well – but the paranoia, pettiness and pugnacity in the couple's interaction. They reach their nadir when he practically begs for affection, and she pleads with him to be more ambitious.

No two actors have complemented each other this well for some time. In an age where vapid acting is vogue, Gosling is a novelty. He is very charming, yet he has a mournful countenance, and possesses a James Dean-like vulnerability. He'd be my poster-on-the-wall if I were 13.

I can't get that entrancing scene where Dean serenades Cindy out of my head. Dean's philosophical outpourings may be interpreted by some as drivel, but more sensitive viewers will detect the shattering honesty. A memorable maxim: 'Girls spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then marry the guy who's got a good job and is gunna stick around.'

We go to the movies – many of us – to escape real life. Comfortable as voyeurs, we let our favourite stars distract us and we forget our worries. But 'Blue Valentine' shows a truth no cinema can shield us from. It mustn't be missed.
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Heartbreaking and Powerful
DirkesDiggler29 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am going to soap box it here for a second. The MPAA (those fine folk who decide what rating a film will receive) ticks me off to no end. Their system feels arbitrary, outdated, and stupid. You can only use the "F" word once in the non literal sense and maintain a PG-13 rating. Because that's the problem, kids hearing the "f" word too many times. For want of any other description, it is terribly stupid.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because the film I watched tonight, a powerful and incredibly touching film has been assigned an NC-17 rating for a sex scene that is not erotic, not violent, not disturbing. It is graphic, but more that that it is sad. Really sad. I'll talk more about this later, but the idea that we have a system that gives "The Human Centipede," "Hostel 1&2″ and all of the "Saw" movies an R rating without a second thought gives this film an NC-17 stuns me. I honestly cannot make sense of it. This is a beautiful, touching, and wonderfully authentic film that deserves a shot at release. There is no logical way a reasonable human being could say that this is less appropriate for a teenager than any of those listed above. For some reason we think graphic torture is fine, but sex and nudity will be the downfall of us all.

My favorite poem is T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I've always identified with it and I think it is one of the finest pieces of writing ever produced. Specifically I am enamored with the line, "Shall I, after tea and cake and ices have the strength to force the situation to its crisis." This describes a situation most of us have been in. You're in a relationship that is failing, you know it's failing, the other person knows, your friends know, but it just hasn't reached that crisis point that forces it to end. That is what this film is about.

Most films center on the beginnings of a relationship (the honeymoon), the middle (where things have reached a comfort point), or the divorce proceedings, but you rarely get the moment when the relationship dies. It's hard to present well and it's difficult to watch. This is what happens when the things that were once funny and cute aren't funny or cute anymore. We've all been there and it is painful.

If you think of a relationship as having a life then Blue Valentine is that life at the moment of death where the life that is dying flashes in front of your eyes. There is a combination of present time and flashback showing how these two people came together and how the inevitably fell apart.

Gossling and Williams are both superb in this film. He plays all the clumsy sweetness and frustration of Dean perfectly, and she plays the damage and need to be loved with a quiet power that is absent from most performances today.

These are two people with a very idealized and romanticized view of love. They view it as something that is there or it isn't. From their backgrounds it is obvious why. Neither of them has any exposure to a couple working at it, tending to the relationship. Things are good, then they aren't. Williams character says early on, "How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?" That is a question that has plagued people as long as there have been relationships. At some point your feelings will change and if you are unequipped to change and grow with them, then any relationship is destined to fail.

The two stories (falling in love and falling apart) are told in intersecting circles. You see the beginning of the end, then you see how they meet, you see the relationship deteriorate further, then you see their amazing first date. This style allows you to see how they fell in love with each other, but also showed the lack of foundation the ultimately doomed them. Through most of the film it is obvious that the only reason they stayed together as long as they did is because of their daughter, and their absolute love for her.

Gosling as the devoted, hard working father is touching, Williams as the overworked mother who seems to be raising her husband along with her daughter is touching. The dynamic of goofy, doting father, and concerned, loving mother is brilliantly played, and creates some genuinely sweet and heartbreaking moments.

This is not an easy movie to watch. It's quite brutal, emotionally, at times. The scene that earned the NC-17 is quite graphic. The two go away to a romantic hotel for a night to try and rediscover something, and end up in a graphic sex scene that is just hard to watch. It's not as graphic as say "Monsters Ball," but there is a resistance by Williams, followed by a resignation, she doesn't want to, but she'll do it. It isn't violent, it isn't a glamorized rape scene, it's hard to watch because it's just so sad. There is no way to deny that this is the death of the relationship embodied in a single moment. He is still infatuated with her, but she has moved on and there isn't any of the old spark left.

While I did enjoy this film it is most definitely not something I would watch often. It is good enough to deserve another view or two, but it is just to heartbreaking. This script went through 66 drafts over 12 years and it shows in the attention to detail, the brilliant pacing, and the way it allows a look and silence to speak volumes. This is a well acted, solidly written and directed film that is well worth at least one viewing, just be aware that it won't be an entirely pleasant experience.
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You will not see better performances this year
tjlarson_27 October 2010
No matter what else is yet to be released, you will not see two better performances this year than Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

It's almost impossible to imagine anyone in anything coming close. In the defensive, aggressive way he turns every line of dialogue around on the speaker as a hidden affront to his insecurities, Gosling reminded me of no less than De Niro in Raging Bull as the older Dean. Playing the younger version, he channels the charm, romanticism, and recklessness of a 1960s Paul Newman.

Williams, who has emerged as the best American actress 30 and under, pulls off a performance that recalls Gena Rowlands' work with Cassavettes. Which is not to say either is an imitation, they aren't "doing method" or aping the authenticity of previous greats. They're 100% the real deal, so good you can only compare them to the best, and they fully embody these characters in every frame. They made me believe, they made me care, they broke my heart.

The story is a familiar one because it's the most common source of drama in life and art but avoids cliché and instead handles the subject with uncommon insight and grace. The lack of context scene-to-scene keeps the audience engaged and on their feet, filling in the intentional holes with their own experience and lending the film a universal relatability. In good times and bad, we can recognize our own triumphs and failures in love. It captures the joyous highs and devastating lows of relationships better than anything I can recall. Gosling singing while Williams tap dances, what she reveals to Gosling on the bridge and how he reacts, the scene in the doctor's office towards the end... they achieve that sense of cinematic transcendence so rare these days. They simply don't craft scenes like this or give actors roles this fully realized in Hollywood anymore.

It's clear this was a labor of love for all involved and it paid off in spades. This is the best American film I've seen this year.
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A heart-wrenching and cautionary tale of love
deproduction17 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I came away from this film more wary of love and relationships than any film I've ever seen. You look at Dean's character (Gosling's best role to-date) and wonder what it is that he did wrong. He fell for a beautiful, young woman (Williams), stepped-up to care for her and her yet-unborn daughter, and shifted his life to focus entirely on being a good husband and father. He was so charming in his interactions with his daughter, and was also loving towards his wife enduring more rejection from her than most could, trying to breathe love back into the relationship. Even his outbursts seemed attempts to give her what she wanted.

So many reviews talk about this being a story of falling in and out of love. My response is surely subjective, but I don't feel Cindy ever loved Dean. She was desperate, pregnant and facing life as a young parent, and Dean was there to hold her. As a mother and wife, I found her to be unlikeable and selfish, cold and unloving. Cindy was probably not intentionally manipulative, but from her initial reluctance to tell Dean about her pregnancy, to her secrecy around her job offer or the encounter in the grocery store, these are all subtle manipulations and lies, hiding the truth (and her true self) from Dean.

I heard the director say he was sympathetic to both characters. Any sympathy I had for Cindy as a young woman caught in a relationship and family she did not hope for was overshadowed by the fact that she made the choices that led her there, and dragged others in with her. I did not sense any growth in her character to indicate she'd move on to create a brighter future for herself and Frankie.

Dean, on the other hand, was a good person, eager to love, and all-too-willing to devote his life to Cindy and daughter Frankie (a sparse, but strong, performance by Faith Wladyka), and in the end, he's left with a broken heart and a broken home. I'd love to feel he's better-off without Cindy, if only it weren't so heartbreakingly clear that he loves her and her daughter immensely.

To me, the film served as a warning in love to be careful where you put your energy.
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A story for the wounded
hyprsleepy26 May 2011
Blue Valentine is one of the most depressing and well done films I've ever seen.

It is one that I will recommend that everyone see. Not because I want them to be sad or because I think they could learn anything new but because I think everyone should want to see the best of everything and this film is the best of its genre that I have ever seen. The acting is perfect. The metaphors are delicious and the hidden signs are just waiting to be uncovered.

Another great thing about this movie is that it is interesting to get different perspectives from your friends as to what they think happened in the movie and to whose side they are on. It is unlikely that they will have trouble connecting to or relating to the characters in Blue Valentine no matter if they have ever been married or had kids before.

Don't expect this to be a date movie or a nice happy rom-com. It is pretty much the anti-thesis of a date movie.
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Red, White, and Mostly Blue Valentine
cheryllynecox-114 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This family album is familiar. A beautiful small town girl meets an eccentric but charming stranger and they fall in dumb. Five years and one enchanting child later, his romantic notions sustain the illusion of his happiness, but her reality is not so poetic. This is a quick snapshot of Dean, Cindy, and Frankie. What happens in this family is what happens to so many others when affection is replaced by contempt, when passive aggression becomes less the former and more or less the latter.

Derek Cianfrance has been developing "Blue Valentine" for nearly 12 years, and his film is not just a complex portrait of its two main characters, it's also profoundly honest as it examines intimacy from every angle. Emotionally and physically, the romantic story of Dean and Cindy flashes backward in beautifully edited matching shots that show us the first flourish of affection, and the final backlash of frustration. Cianfrance doesn't force his audience to choose sides though it was probably easier for me to identify with Cindy. That's what is the most compelling about this film. I cared about both of the main characters and didn't want either to lose. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both delivered superb performances and each took a little piece of my heart. Or as Tom Waits said in his song, "It's the tattooed broken promise" (Dean has a "Giving Tree" tat on his upper arm).

The camera work and art direction are exceptionally effective. Set primarily around Independence Day, we see flags, fireworks, and all realm of red, white, and blue. This motif is subtly conveyed with the lighting and costumes throughout the film and continues throughout the credits. Fireworks serve as a last reminder of the explosive power and fractured remnants of a brief illumination.

When this film is finally released, I expect it will receive an R rating for some fairly graphic nudity and explicit sexuality. There is also a brutal fight, alcohol consumption and smoking. And if that's not enough, a near-abortion might be too much for some, but hey, this is a very contemporary portrait of a familiar American marriage.
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Sweet And Emotionally Devastating
rama-2817 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
BLUE VALENTINE is both sweet and emotionally devastating. It's raw in every sense of the word. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance has crafted a brave and genuine relationship-character study. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams floor me. Acting doesn't get better than this…

Dramas about a couple whose relationship is warm and fuzzy at first but then grows cold and bitter over time is not something new. You don't have to go back to classic films in the 60s, you could just take last year's indie Peter and Vandy for example. So there have been many attempts to capture relationships on the big screen that's not fantastical but more grounded and more honest. I believe that BLUE VALENTINE has perfected it.

What's genius about Cianfrance's story is that the dialogue doesn't hold any type of pretense to it. I attended the press screening and read the press notes afterward and was amazed by the long, grueling process that Cainfrance went through along with his stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams just to get the kind of characters they have in mind. Some of the scenes you see in BLUE VALENTINE were contributions of Gosling and Williams who had complete understanding of the characters and the goal of the story. The story shows you the past, how these two characters met, what made them fall for each other, romantic and heartfelt.. and then.. the present, of what time does to a relationship when communication is not clear anymore and misunderstandings take over like an ugly bacteria that worsen every situation, it just doesn't look hopeful from that point on.

Last year we had the film Precious which was a pretty heavy, emotionally draining drama. This year is BLUE VALENTINE which serves similar kick but it's less cinematic and even more performance-driven. I can't even begin to fairly describe how astounding Gosling and Williams are in this film. Their performances here will be the kind that aspiring actors and theater students will learn from for years to come. They're spontaneous and unadulterated. I'm completely amazed by the way the play the fights and the arguments. As Dean and Cindy, Gosling and Williams respectively convince you that they once love each other and now they may or may not be able to stand each other's presence.

Which leads me to the characters themselves, I don't think Cianfrance created them so that you the audience would take sides or try to decide which of them is right or wrong because I believe that these are two individuals who eventually realize that they're living not just with each other but also with regrets of the past, which make it very hard to be grateful,.. you can tell that they're 'suffocated'.

One could argue that Cindy is right in that Dean seems too content, like he doesn't have ambition, he's short tempered and very demanding. And one could argue that Dean is right in that Cindy is too consumed by the thoughts of what could've, would've, should've been if the her choices had been different. Their relationship is not physically abusive but it might as well be, there are times when things get heated, you would think it's only a matter of time before somebody would get seriously hurt.

It seems like somewhere along the way, Dean and Cindy just aren't in the same wavelength anymore. Their unhappiness stems from the fact that they no longer know how to make each other happy. Cianfrance wants to remind the audience that marriage is hard, it's a lot of work and it can get rocky, it's no laughing matter. If you're looking for a happy ending or perhaps Dean and Cindy have a moment where they'd still be friends, BLUE VALENTINE doesn't offer that, what it offers you is a depiction of both the beauty and the hardship of relationship/marriage. It speaks to those who may have grown up in a home where the parents aren't your stereotypical love dubby mom and dad you see on 7th Heaven-type soap operas. So if you don't come out appreciating BLUE VALENTINE, not even for the performances, then it's possible that it's because you're not the intended audience.
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Blue Valentine: The Most genuine and heartfelt romance in more than a decade.
george-napper16 November 2010
If ever there was a perfect film that defines the romantic relationship for the 21st century, Derek Cianfrance's 'Blue Valentine' is that film. We begin at a secluded ranch house where a little girl is trying to find her lost dog. We then see her father (Ryan Gosling) comforting her. Enter mom (Michelle Williams), the concerned mother who tries to balance work and her child's needs. Seems like a generally happy household, right? Wrong. Though they may not want to admit it, Dean and Cindy's marriage has been on the rocks for years. Dean decides to take his wife to a sex motel that ends up being more like a Star Trek motel to try to rekindle the way they used to feel about each other. The reason for their bickering is unclear until the flashbacks that have been following the main plot line give you a full understanding of why things have deteriorated so. You see them meet each other, fall madly in love, and then experience… well, you'll have to see it yourself.

Personally, I think this is the tragic romance to end all tragic romances. Films will try to beat it, but they will have to work long and hard before they can eek out an ounce of the genuineness with which this film tells its story. Ryan Gosling's performance is one with a true everyman quality while allowing for a full-fledged, interesting character and a brilliantly realized character arc. Michelle Williams does the same. She delivers this role with so much raw truth that you almost forget that it's Michelle Williams and not just an average woman. I would not be surprised at all to see both of these superb talents get nominated for Best Actor Oscars, along with Derek Cianfrance for Best Director and the writing team for Best Original Screenplay.

It's heartbreaking, it's deeply moving; it will have you laughing, crying and singing its praises. Even though the MPAA seems to have a beef with truth in filmmaking, it's hard to imagine this film not being discovered over time and being recognized for the infallible masterpiece that it is.
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Color me bad
kosmasp10 January 2012
While the movie states that it is a love story, I think it depends on your definition of "love story" or how far that term stretches. Let me put it this way: This ain't your typical Valentines movie. It is heavy drama and it does depict relationship(s) very harshly. And because it feels so real, you can get sucked into it.

The movie got some heat over one scene (rating wise there was some problem in the USA), but if you see it in context, it does make sense. It does hurt, but it makes sense. You should also watch out for the time-line. Though it can be easily followed (hairline), but it might confuse you for a second there. Great movie with great actors!
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Surprisingly well done. I was a bit skeptical at first . . .
charles0001 March 2014
Surprisingly well done. I was a bit skeptical at first, but as I traveled my way through this story, it made more sense than many other attempts to capture this concept and present it well. Michelle Williams really shines here, it may be her best role yet, at least that I'm aware of.

The key point here is that is an anatomy of a marriage that has dissolved over time, becoming increasingly irrelevant to the wife, and evermore difficult for the husband to comprehend or connect with what's going on with his wife.

I've seen this before, in real life. Sometimes, marriages just come apart over time, even if they started out with the best of intentions and all the chemistry that can be imagined. It just happens . . . people change over time, and often, not in sync with each other. There's no real "bad guy" in the scenario portrayed . . . just the realities of how people drift apart, to the point of no return. Trust me on this one, this does happen.

This film may not be for everyone, but for those who can relate with this type of story, this is probably one of the best attempts yet which delivers a reasonably realistic depiction of what this can be like.
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A Slow Dissolve
ferguson-612 January 2011
Greetings again from the darkness. OK, so I was extremely surprised to be the only male in a theater with 30 plus viewers. I had not once previously thought of this as a chick flick. In fact, it is quite a weighty relationship expose' and that explains the lack of present men. What is surprising is that while the film is about the ever-so-slow crumbling of a marriage, there is no blame placed at the feet of any one person, as is so often the case in Hollywood.

You might have already guessed that this is no upbeat, loosie-goosie rom-com. Rather, it is a bleak look at a marriage that starts with good intentions and fades into misery. On the plus, we witness an acting clinic by two of today's absolute best ... Ryan Gosling as Dean and Michelle Williams as Cindy. Dean is quite the oddball romantic as he strums his ukulele and quivers "You Always Hurt the Ones You Love" in a bit of foreshadowing. Cindy, on the other hand, is a bit more ambitious and has dreams of medical school.

The two meet by happenstance in the hallway of a nursing home when Cindy is visiting her grandmother. Immediately, there are sparks and after Cindy's macho boyfriend proves his true rotten self to her, she becomes more enamored with Dean. When an unexpected pregnancy occurs, Dean is pretty quick to stand up for Cindy and they set off to build a life together.

Flash forward 6 years and Dean has changed very little, while Cindy just seems totally beaten down. They both cherish their precious daughter Frankie (played by newcomer Faith Wladyka) but their relationship is nowhere, gone, kaput. Even an attempted one-night getaway to a themed hotel doesn't provide the relief they need. Instead, it's the final straw. When Cindy repeats "I'm done" ... we don't doubt her at all.

Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance does a tremendous job with the details and creating the personalities of these two people. Every relationship requires work and failure can be predicted when one gives up and the other pretends all is fine. This one probably won't save any marriages, but it is worth seeing just to watch Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in action.
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great film! great acting! great soundtrack!
lombardoisking7 April 2010
i saw this movie at the Sundance film festival and i can't get it out of my head. everything about it is incredibly inspired and brave and poetic. the acting is astounding (i can't remember the last time i saw 2 movie stars be so raw)... the honest, unflinching portrayal of a real relationship is something you don't see much, especially in American film, (again, the actors really deliver here)... the way the images and the music work together creates a sort of dream-scape. this movie is special. i was blown away by it. i can't wait until the release so i can see it again. i hope it is as good as i remember! and i really hope they don't get scared and change it because people need to see this in the movies!
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The complexities of human relationships
laura_macleod19 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Blue Valentine is a complex drama as it requires the viewer to take a step forward beyond the visuals and in to the depths of the psychological world of the protagonists and how they operate as human beings. The viewer needs understanding of their life experiences and how this effects their ability to love and be able to take part in a loving relationship. I really liked the film for these reasons - it stretches the viewer beyond the superficial and in to the psychology of love and why a relationship may fail due to unresolved issues and failures in early family relationships. The fabric of the story revolves around a kind young man who is drifting and without education. He yearns for love and it becomes clear that his yearning is also connected to his lack of family in early life and mother abandonment. He meets a lovely intelligent young woman who is hoping to become a doctor - she has a weakness and that is rooted in a promiscuity and lack of true connection with men - this is due to her father being a bully which is clearly shown. Fate throws these two young people together and a pregnancy issue brings them to marriage - whether or not the child is truly his is never totally explained. However, what is clear is that both of them are looking for love and the child serves as a catalyst for deeper connection. As the story emerges in the form of flashbacks, we are shown the gradual deterioration of a very promising beginning. I can pin this deterioration on a few factors which the film masterly leaves in the viewer's consciousness to discover. Firstly, the girl is not honest - she is not honest to herself and to her life wishes. She does not make decisions based on self awareness even though with her intelligence she is capable of that. She uses the love of the man to see her through a stage of being a mother that she has chosen but not with her whole heart. Meanwhile, the young man is not without flaws but he cannot find the structure in himself to improve himself as an individual; he sinks into a kind of lethargy probably sensing that he 'is not good enough' for the girl but not able to comprehend that if he had moved into education and goals, she would have respected him more. The film then moves into the territory of what we are capable of in terms of emotional damage in early life. This is a heart wrenching drama as you can see the potential of their love and how it is eroded by their subconscious destructive mechanisms and inability to grow together. The acting is SUPERB; I have total admiration for these two actors for these very difficult roles. I would like to conclude that Blue Valentine is not primarily a love story; it is fundamentally a story about human complexity and the journey it takes to shake off the past and to re-define the personality THROUGH love for another individual. Unfortunately sometimes the demons that people carry and the burdens of childhood are too strong and too overwhelming to survive even the greatest love. We are more than just emotion and in the pursuit of a loving relationship we need to be brave enough to improve ourselves, seek help and reach out for ways to grow within the initial love attraction and make it long lasting for life's long journey.
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Love is a Bore
michaelhasenstab13 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Throughout this film about a failing marriage, I wanted one question to be answered: What was the problem? Here we have a funny, loving, childlike guy married to an unhappy woman. Seems she gave up her medical career because she became pregnant before they married. Hmmm...since when does this thwart an entire career? It ain't the 50s anymore. We see through flashbacks that they were very much in love, but we do not get to know why she, not he, becomes dissatisfied with the relationship. We are expected to believe that this is how most relationships dissolve? For no particular reason, just a blah feeling about it all. This film needs a half hour of editing and a much faster pace. The dialogue is flat, and the much hyped sexually explicit scenes may be just that for prime time network TV, but not for me. I didn't see sexually explicit at all here. I asked audience members around me--all women--what her problem was. Three said that it wasn't clear to them why she was no longer in love. One suggested it was probably because he smokes. Another because he drinks. Another because he is immature. Hmmm...Then I asked (bothered it seemed) two other moviegoers, again women, and they looked at me puzzled. When I asked her what the wife's problem was, she said, "You mean--what caused her problems?" Uhm...yeah. The other said, "Life." And they both left. This film is not satisfying emotionally or intellectually. And it's a bore, too. When the female protagonist says that she has two children, implying that one of them is her husband, I thought--could be this is her issue then. Lame, just lame. The guy clearly loves her and their daughter, and he is clearly childlike, not childish--in fact, is is she who seems childish and selfish. Writers: be clear.
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I've had better.
evkendig17 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were both excellent in this movie, their talent was exhibited very well which was about the only redeeming thing about this film, they played a miserable couple very well. Now that I got that out of the way, the movie itself was a renter at best.

I read reviews saying that this movie was "Heart-wrenching" and "Moving" but only thing that wrenched my heart out is the fact that people buy into this mediocrity. The script was weak, there was no decent dialogue, no compelling plot, no creative story-line, no real character development and no insightful resolution; it was as if someone wrote about a sad boring broken romance that they had and found some sucker to produce it. It was a hyperbolized exhibit of the worse side of the marital statistics in society. As for the cinematography, I have seen better quality work done in Junior colleges. Some of the scenes the frame was zoomed in so much the viewer didn't know what they were looking at; I understand that it was done purposefully to bring a first person perspective for the viewer, but it was contrived, not avant-garde. I don't understand how people found this movie entertaining or valuable in anyway.

Now for the story. Let me break it down, guy meets girl (already Pregnant, 9 weeks in) takes her anyway, gets married in a roadside chapel, five years later she doesn't appreciate him due the suffering of her own guilt, but can't own up to her faults and blames it all on him. Guy, sucker that he is raises the child as his own after being beat up by the biological father and still stays with the girl even though it is blatantly apparent she doesn't love him, and using him as a scapegoat emotional crutch that throws him to the side after everything he's done for her. Heart-wrenching? Only because Gosling's character was so spineless. Was I moved? To tears, that I opt to go see another movie. Never did I imagine that a shotgun wedding love story could be made into a movie in such a pretentious and predictable manner. Those of you who thought this depressing chic flick was some kind of phenomenon, please reconsider some truly good films that are out there and compare their qualities to this one and appreciate the well crafted deserving work that is available to you. As for the morals of the story, don't marry someone you just met and is pregnant with someone else's child or stalks you on a bus with a ukulele. Don't need to remind me twice.

I must again stress that Gosling and Williams did very well in their performances. Their abilities to show the change of state in their characters feeling towards one another was astounding and quite an inspiration in their work. Their choice to be a part of this project is what was disappointing. If these two were not involved in this project it would have never had such a big spotlight on it.
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Ple-e-e-ease. (Rolls eyes) Note: now including AN UPDATE.
mintonmedia19 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I thrive on difficult, complicated, emotionally raw films. I yearn for heartbreak and I love ambiguous endings...when they are earned. I even like films about people I don't like...when they stimulate my interest or emotion through a level of reality (or, for that matter, unreality) that communicates something--anything--genuine.

I hated this film, because it felt rooted in another planet: indie-world, where cute hipsters revel and couple in movie-ish "joy" and fight and come apart in faux "anguish". I felt no discomfort except boredom in watching "Blue Valentine" because the actors, who've swept me up entirely into other so-called "difficult" films (Williams in "Wendy and Lucy", Gosling in "The Believer", for example), were utterly unempathizable (if intensely "acted") caricatures in this one. He was shorthand for an initially likable, none-too-bright slacker who turns out to wear poorly, she was destined from word one to be a brittle smart-aleck who finds it easy to fault others but recognizes none of her own, increasingly nasty flaws. The child is sweet (and a talented little actor) but is, sadly, just a plot device, not the emotional story center she could have been.

The structure had promise, but the direction and script (or improvisation) were sloppy, the work of people who base their visions of reality on other films, not life. Muffed details like the clichéd "meet cute" or Cindy's dad's careless morphing from awful father to sensitive grandfather or the incredibly wooden level of dialog and acting in the doctor's office fight could have been overlooked if I simply cared about the people at the core of the story.

But the pair were as fake as the "robot's vagina" of a sex-mecca offered up to show us how low their relationship had sunk. And, frankly, my dear, I couldn't have given less of a damn. Sorry to be a bring-down, folks, but this film, like Hans Christian Anderson's emperor, has no clothes.

UPDATE, added almost 4 years later, having, in the meantime, seen and loved Cianfrance and Gosling's next collaboration, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES: Guess I may have to view BLUE VALENTINE again...because I can't believe how well the synthesis between director and star works in their second film together. Hell, when the intricate Mr. Cianfrance showed up for Q&A after the PINES screening, the first thing everyone must have noticed is how much he physically looks what has to be his on screen avatar in the last two films he's helmed. Talk about sync. More on the VALENTINE this separated-at-birth duo this team pasted together when I see it again.
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You Always Hurt, The Ones You Love...
BeautifulDisaster528721 January 2011
What a film this was. The story spans over some year and is about a man and wife with marital problems. I don't really want to tell you anything more...just watch it. I just finished, and they said this film stings...boy does it. The acting, first off, is exquisite. The back and forth from past to present was perfectly placed throughout the film and the overall outcome is so heart-wrenching, it feels like you've been punched in the stomach. Awards season, here this film comes...

And The Soundtrack? I want it.....soooooo bad. Whoever did the music deserves a medal.

Best Scenes: 1. The part where Ryan Gosling sings "You Always Hurt The Ones You Love" 2. The rest...

Excuse Me Michelle... Michelle Williams seems to always play the role of a grieving wife/widow/cancer patient(Dawson's Creek) so maybe that's why she has this role down to a tee. It's not an insult, it's a compliment....or just an observation. I don't think I've ever seen her in a happy comedy role so maybe a future, nevermind.

Best Lines: 1. Dean: "In my experience, the prettier a girl is, the more nuts she is, which makes you insane." Cindy: "I like how you can compliment and insult somebody at the same time, in equal measure." 2. Dean: "I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like, one girl, 'cause we're resistant the whole way until we meet one girl and we think I'd be an idiot if I didn't marry this girl she's so great. But it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option... 'Oh he's got a good job.' I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who's got a good job and is gonna stick around."

Overall: A wonderful and heartbreaking love story with spot on acting, singing, cinematography, directing and writing. It's so powerful, it out-shines most films I've seen this year and it's definitely going down as one of my favorites.

9.5 Stars. Read all my movie reviews at
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From beginning to end without passing through a middle?
flickernatic20 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This hyped-up movie turns out to be rather average. The plot is simple and universal - a young couple fall in love, they get older and more world-experienced, they fall out of love. Plot-wise, that's pretty much it.

Numerous often confusingly-placed flash-backs show us how pure and simple their original relationship was, though She had a lot (? - 'about 25' from the age of 13) of lovers. When she falls pregnant she cannot be sure that He is the father.

We also see the couple in the present, She now a busy medic, He (naturally!) a drunken, chain-smoking bozo who has never progressed beyond warehouse work. Not that he is an unlikeable character, for we see that he loves children (his infant daughter), animals (the dog) and old people (he tenderly helps an elderly man settle into a rest home).

The couple's marriage is disintegrating; they go to a futuristic hotel for a weekend of passion in a room that looks like a cross between an American diner and the Tardis. It seems, as He puts it, 'like a robot's vagina' - a phrase which is striking but which doesn't really work - and neither do they. Later there's a confrontation at her place of work, and they are nicely shown looking past each other with Her image reflected in a glass partition. Interspersed with these scenes are various depictions of full-sex which simply become boring and which don't add to the story.

What we don't see, however, is what happens in between then and now. We don't see them struggling with Life, so we are not really much wiser at the end of the movie than we were at the beginning. How He and She got to be where they are remains frustratingly obscure.

The movie is saved from being a complete turn-off largely by the excellent acting all round, and by the lush camera-work. Faith Wladyka is particularly brilliant as the couple's child, especially in the early scenes with her daddy. If only He had not been encouraged to mumble his lines so much - what is it with this mumbling thing? It wasn't up to much even from Brando.

So, worth seeing but don't be surprised if you come away disappointed.

P.S. We saw the movie at our regular haunt, the Cornerhouse, in Manchester, UK, a great movie venue if you're ever passing this way.
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Thinking of watching Blue Valentine? I'll save you some Blue ValenTIME! SPOILERS
Freebasedog24 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Before you watch this film I would like you to ask yourself a question: Do you think it's a good idea to marry a girl you just met who is pregnant with the child of some other a-hole she was banging out of boredom and shame? No? Not a good plan? Probably not gonna turn out well, right? In fact maybe even one of the stupidest things a person could do?

Well, that's (expletive deleted) Blue Valentine for ya only they edit it so you don't watch these retarded morons making all these mistakes in the correct order and are supposed to be emotionally affected by it as it unravels. And you might be, if you either are, or are sympathetic to, morons who ruin their lives on purpose for no good reason. By the time the highly publicized sex scene rolled around I was too blind with rage to enjoy the nudity and just wanted the aliens from skyline to come down and crush them both and take their child away. *NOTE: Skyline is also not good. But at least it's "silly-alien-attack not-good", instead of "thinks-it-is-important not-good."
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"Blue Valentine" is a realistic and somewhat depressing film about falling in and out of love.
MovieManMenzel24 October 2010
"Blue Valentine" is truly an independent film. Everything from the way it is shot, to the acting, to the storyline, to the realness screamed indie! "Blue Valentine" has a simple storyline. It's a movie about two people, Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Gosling) who fall in love. I will warn you now that this is not your typical love story. This film shows everything from how a relationship forms to how it can turn into a utter nightmare. "Blue Valentine" is realistic, full of raw emotions, and showcases two great performances but does that mean it's a great film? Well I will break that down for you in the next few paragraphs.

Just think of "Blue Valentine" as a independent or poor man's version of "Revolutionary Road" with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. "Blue Valentine," as I stated in the above, is a very independent film. Cindy and Dean portray the average blue collar American couple. From the trailer, you don't really know what the film is about besides the fact that there will be a random and somewhat humorous song and dance number by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in the film. The movie is about falling in and out of love. It shows you how once you begin to live life, work, and have a child how life changes and not always for the better. It's a very raw and in your face kind of film. Why this film got slapped with an NC-17 rating is beyond me? There are some realistic love scenes in the film, however, nothing to raw that warrants that harsh of a rating. I don't get why MPAA got so tough on this film.

I always enjoy Ryan Gosling in his independent projects and this one is no different. He was a really good hipster in this film. Without giving too much away from the film, there is one scene where him and Williams are arguing and the emotion is so real and powerful. Gosling hasn't been this solid in a film since "The Believer." As for Michelle Williams, well she is another great actress. I always enjoyed her work but like Gosling, she hasn't really had many mainstream hits. I think Williams is a talented independent actress but I don't know if she will ever be a huge scarlet. It's OK though because a lot of the best actors and actresses never make their way to being huge leads. Williams will hopefully be noticed this year for her performance in this film.

This film was written by three different people and when there are normally more than two writers attached to a project, I tend to worry. Why it took three people to write such a simple screenplay seems odd but maybe Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, and Cami Delavigne put a little bit of their relationship experience in the screenplay. I don't know for sure but this looked and felt like a realistic story at times like the writers had a similar experience. Gosling's character seemed a bit out there and was never really explained that well in the film. I didn't quite get why they didn't do a better background on his character. Also, there was no middle of the relationship. It seemed to jump from good to bad and that hurt the chemistry of the two leads. Cianfrance also directed the film. He had some really good scenes where he captured the emotions of the characters perfectly but than others where he didn't do so well. Also, it should be stated that most of the scenes in the film were written and then shot flashback to the present. It fit the film well and helped overlook some of the relationship potholes in the film.

Overall, "Blue Valentine" was a depressing, heart wrenching, and well acted piece of cinema. It didn't blow my mind as much as I would have liked it too but than again maybe I was expecting too much from a film with an 8 million dollar budget. As previously stated, "Blue Valentine" can simply be summed up as a poor man's version of "Revolutionary Road." With no disrespect to Williams or Gosling, Kate and Leo pulled the trouble relationship off better. While Gosling and Williams were both extremely believable at times and showcased some raw emotion, their chemistry wasn't as strong as the I would have liked I think as the characters got older, they just seemed so different from one another. Gosling got so weird as he got older and since it wasn't truly explained why, the film lost points for that. I think the big missing element was the storyline in the middle of the relationship, which was there but not detailed. The story seemed to go from bad to good with no middle. This was the film's weakness and why the two leads didn't have has good of chemistry at times. If you can ignore a few missing plot holes and try not to focus on the inconsistency of the two leads chemistry with one another than I would say you should really be able to appreciate the film. I am trying not to be too harsh because I did enjoy the film a lot and it featured some terrific scenes even if they were extremely depressing.

MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Blue Valentine" is a 7 out of 10. Not the best film of the year but definitely a realistic and raw look at relationships.
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Too long, what happened?
sns1063 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
My favorite movie reviewer is James B. If he gives a movie three stars (out of four) the odds are very good that I'll have a satisfying viewing experience. He actually gave this dog 3.5! I've never differed with him so much. If this story had been told chronologically, it would have been excruciatingly obvious that this marriage wasn't going to work out. It's as if the movie makers cut up the story board and shuffled it like a deck of cards. We find out only well into this bore that she wanted to be a doctor while he was a high school dropout and and made no bones about it. He marries her even though another guy just knocked her up. For the first half of the movie I thought she was just an impossible person; in the second half we are given a crumb as to why - he drinks in the morning and lacks ambition. And that's it. The only charming pleasant scene in the whole movie is in the trailer, him playing the ukulele and singing, but we are given precious little more to convince us they should fall in love. In fact, we're given no reason why she broke up with the previous guy, except that he came inside her and that she would never speak to him again. Everything is too sketchy. What were the things that happened along the way to make them so miserable? Instead of a storyline, we get awkwardly timed flashbacks and long, lugubrious scenes of them being miserable together. My wife and I have been married (happily) less than two years and thought this movie might provide some food for thought, things to watch out for, but this movie gives nothing of the sort. Oh well, at least it only cost us a little over two bucks each.
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I became a fan of Ryan Gosling after watching this movie.
kc-chaitanya8912 October 2012
Where can I start about this movie? You want me to start about the great performances by the actors? or the skillful directing? or the masterful writing?

I was dumbfounded right after watching this movie. In fact I wondered, why didn't Ryan gosling get nominated for the Oscar but Michelle Williams did.

While watching this movie, I didn't get entertained but I savored the reality which I was viewing on the screen. I'm fully moved. What I loved most in this movie is the character Dean neither raises his voice nor his hand at his wife but respects her with profound sincerity. He makes mistakes but never let go of his family.

The director portrayed beautifully about the most common problems which arise between a man and wife and how they overcome those problems. Apart from this, I totally loved the chemistry between Dean and Cindy before marriage. This movie includes some sweet moments and some bitter moments as well. I'm 23 and single and If I ever become a husband then I wanna be like Dean(The character in this movie).
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Choose a root canal over this one
Quietb-129 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In outstanding performances, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams bare their emotions and their bodies.

In "500 Days of Summer" they told you what day it was. In this Dark Days of Winter you have to pretty much figure it out for yourself.

About the second time the Michelle Williams character screams "I can't take it anymore" I couldn't either. No amount of sex on the screen is worth the pain and suffering. No need to hang around for a happy ending as you know there won't be one. Not only that, what makes you think he won't be back for another round of physical and emotional abuse in a sequel?

Speaking of physical abuse, the only time the Gosling character was alone at work, and not surrounded by his big moving company buddies, was when the writers needed him to be alone at work.

The nonlinear story telling got tiresome. It takes you away from where things are in the relationship and back to the happy wedding day way too late to care. At that point it was as meaningless, as the writer forced, liquor store encounter with the old, but important boy friend.

Anytime the family dog dies in the first ten minutes you know you are not in for fun movie experience.

Interesting cinematography, ranging from reflections, to up too close and personal. Rather than a fly on the wall, you feel like a voyeur to a very intimate relationship.

It appears they will market this movie on the cute little dance song on the street and the hot steamy sex. Don't get sucked in. It is dark, painful, and heavy handed. If you don't walk in, you won't have to run out of the theater.
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Seems to me someone could be blamed
smoky_circles25 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A chilling and frustrating movie that tries to say 'it's both their faults, and this is how it goes'. It shows how the worst qualities of the couple (especially the wife) come out full force against each other.

I couldn't help but feel that it was Cindy's fault. Distant and repelling from the start, Cindy goes to the affectionate and caring, if stupid, Dean when she's pregnant with another man's child (a note should be made: a pre-medical student does not know how to/ attempt to prevent a pregnancy immediately after sex? Instead she just washes herself after having unprotected sex....Then three months into it, decides to have an abortion. It's really not a wonder that she didn't end up a doctor).

Dean goes on to do more for her than any man can be expected to: first takes her to the clinic, then marries her....He even loves the daughter as his own. He repeatedly tries to be affectionate to Cindy, only to be repelled by her every time. When she meets the baby's father, who once beat up Dean like crazy, she makes conversation with him like he was a high school sweetheart or something.

So overall, it was just easier for me forgive Dean's character flaws: he smokes, he drinks, he's lazy and he makes excuses, to Cindy's repulsive attitude: she is consistently distant and repelling, obviously blames him for her dissatisfaction with life, and just can't let Dean in.

All in all, this movie seemed to me the case of a loving, if incapable man chasing after a distant and repelling woman. And he concedes defeat much too late.
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Williams and Gosling are terrific, each along and as a couple...see this!
secondtake15 September 2014
Blue Valentine (2010)

You might notice when it's all over that the plot is a love story gone bad in the most common way. There are no great twists of plot, no surprises to wake you up. This is a hard driven story about two regular people who are making a go at a relationship. Period.

And the superb acting will keep this simple story line going. Both Dean, played by Ryan Gosling, and Cindy, by Michelle Williams, are fully realized characters with flaws and charms and stubborn streaks that we all recognize. There is high romance here (the title is perfect in many ways) and there is sadness, too. And a child who of course gets both ends of that stick.

The filming throughout shows how much a loose, cinema verite kind of realism with the camera has become normal, and it's quite beautiful and effective. This isn't a stately film with overwrought camera-work, but the production values are very high all the same, not falling into the hand-held zone of some indie films. Impressive. In the future, keep an eye on Andrij Parekh, the cinematographer.

You may be the type to want something more in a movie. By chance I saw a similar movie a couple days ago where nothing really happens outside a slice of life showing the ups and downs in a relationship, and that one was truly slow and boring. "Blue Valentine" avoids this flaw most of all through the searing performances by Gosling and Williams. But I also think the writing, as much as it stayed within familiar boundaries, was sharp and believable, it didn't waste time, it had sincerity, and it fit the characters. All of this is hard to relay in a review, but when you experience it you'll see how it really works.

This isn't a rom-com, or an innovative thrill, nor is it depending on crime and suspense to succeed. That is, this is just a drama about everyday, working class people. If that seems up your alley you'll really love it.
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