Now Showing: Blue Valentine

[You may be wondering why, since I usually write about new releases, I have chosen to review Blue Valentine (which was released in late December most places) this week. Well, despite being out for a month, Blue Valentine remains a water cooler topic. The subject is no longer the MPAA’s original decision to give Blue Valentine an NC-17 rating (read my thoughts on that here), but instead it is Michelle Williams’ nomination for Best Actress; more notably, it is her nomination compared to Ryan Gosling who did not receive a nomination for his performance. Aside from that, it is an Oscar-nominated film, which means that if you look hard enough, you can probably find a showing in your area.]
Blue Valentine is the story of a young couple in the process of falling into, and subsequently out of, love. The film masterfully goes back and forth between the two times, providing an amazing juxtaposition. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play the couple and they deserve so much credit for their work in this film. Their performances make the audience see a transformation, while only truly acting infatuation and whatever the opposite of infatuation is.
When I was debating whether or not to see the film, specifically to see it alone, my friend told me I should and had an interesting comment. He said, “It’s the kind of movie that you don’t want to talk about after.” I was sold. And now I know exactly what he was talking about. The film is beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and perfectly depressing.
There are some amazing directors up for an Academy Award for best director this year, but I believe that, despite not receiving a nomination, Derek Cianfrance deserves a lot of credit for this film. He uses the subtlest techniques in order to portray the two different times in characters’ lives. The scenes in both time periods have a gritty life-like quality, but the flashbacks contain a slight gloss and optimism to them whereas the present day features a darker, harsher setting. It really helps you get into the mindset of both times, which would otherwise be tricky considering how different the characters’ emotions are from past to present.
Both Gosling and Williams always impress with their acting and their work in Blue Valentine is no exception. These characters are faced with obstacle after obstacle and the actors make every reaction they portray completely believable.
I had a theory while watching this film that everything will get something out of it. Sure, it’s a pretty depressing film, but we all have different life experiences and opinions when it comes to things like falling in love and divorce. I, for example, am a cynic on the subject of love and have been a child of divorce. Needless to say, I felt a strong connection to the film. And, if you choose to see it, you likely will bring your own baggage, or optimism, to your movie-going experience as everyone subconsciously does. So, while the film has undeniably depressing moments, I am curious to read your comments regarding what you got out of the film.
If you’re looking to laugh at the theater this weekend, don’t see Blue Valentine. But, if you feel an onset of masochism, try out Blue Valentine; you will be impressed by the beautiful way Cianfrance, Gosling, and Williams tell this story (and then you will be very melancholy, so don’t say I didn’t warn you), or, at the very least, it will give you something to talk about at your Academy Awards party (February 27th! Save the date!).
Click here to get Meredith’s take on other new releases.

One Month Challenge: No Eating After 10 p.m.
One Month Challenge: No Eating After 10 p.m.
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