Blue Valentine – Review


Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Starring Ryan GoslingMichelle WilliamsMike Vogel.

This film is possibly one of the most realistic depiction of the “falling in and out of love” story I’ve seen in a very long time (possibly ever). It’s certainly not an easy watch: its raw and honest quality makes it almost palpable and you truly believe these two characters have been living as a couple for years, had a child together and are now going through their toughest time yet.

The film follows two timelines and inter-cuts them to perfection: The present day, in which things are not going to well and the past (you’re never quite sure how long it’s been between the two times, but the make up on the actors and the age of the child, makes you deduct that it must be at least 5 or 6 years).The audience is left putting the pieces together and wondering “how did they get there?”. And yet the film doesn’t really answer many questions, mainly because sometimes there isn’t a straight answer.

Derek Cianfrance films this story as a documentary (it’s interesting to notice that’s what his background has been so far). The camera seems to capture little looks, gestures, lines of dialogue almost by mistake, as if it happened to be there by mistake. Crucial lines are sometimes delivered as the leads turn their back to camera and sometimes even off-screen. There are a couple of intimate moments in the film too, and why they too are raw as they can be, they’re also never distasteful or gratuitous. I was shocked to learn how this film got a NC17 rating in America, treating it as if this was some sort of pornographic flick (which it really is not!), or as if it was worse than any of those explicitly graphically violent movies like Machete for example, which is out at the same time.

I mean… really!? You barely see a couple of breasts from a few seconds and that’s about it.  I seem to remember much stronger images in Basic Instict years and years ago…

(SPOILER ALERT) I must confess there’s a scene in the film which is so intense that for a moment I thought I wasn’t going to take it. It’s when Michelle Williams decides to go to the hospital to have an abortion. Once again the true raw atmosphere of the film makes this scene almost unbearable. A woman sitting next to me was covering her eyes all the way through… and yet, you don’t really see anything at all. The whole scene is played on Michelle Williams face as you hear the doctor explaining to her what he’ll do, step by step. Mercifully, she changes her mind before it’s too late.

Which brings me to talk about the acting in this film. This is certainly Michelle Williams’s best performance yet (though she has already been pretty good in the last few years) but what really stood out for me was Ryan Gosling who managed to portray a character full of imperfections and faults and yet made him so likeable that it’s impossible to blame.

(SPOILER ALERT) The scene towards the end when Michelle’s character confronts her husband and tells him she has no love for him anymore is truly heartbreaking and made even more powerful by intercutting of the scene wedding day. The dialogue is minimal, the music almost non-existent and yet the actors bring it alive like nothing I’ve seen this year.

Sadly the film might be a bit too low-key to get any Oscar recognition, but it surely deserves some!!

08 DECEMBER 2010 –
The MPAA has overturned the insane NC-17 rating. Now the film will be rated.

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