If you must know, I am a sucker for well renowned love stories, or in this case, anti-love stories. When I first heard about Blue Valentine on NPR Radio, I knew it would be one of those films I just had to see. Usually in such a case, I set myself up for disappointment. Rarely do I like to go into a film knowing a lot about it. If it sounds interesting, my expectations are generally set too high. By the end of this particular film, however, my unrealistic expectations had been exceeded. It is definitely a must watch, but as a fair warning, it will pull at the heart strings.
This story is set right in the heart of a dying relationship. Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy) give a stunning performance of two people who fall in and out of love. The film eventually takes a peek into the blissful beginning of their relationship; yet, the majority of the film is uncomfortably set during Dean’s struggle to maintain their broken relationship, and, simultaneously, Cindy’s struggle to consciously admit that she feels nothing anymore for her husband.
Dean sets the tone of the film quite nicely at the very beginning when he explains the difference between men and womens view on marriage to one of his buddies: “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.” At this stage, I was sort of frustrated with the film, thinking that the portrayal of men would be superior to that of women. Yet, there was a sort of tug-of-war going on with my emotions. I found myself siding with him, and then with her, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that it is not about siding with one or the other, but about the tragic reality that feelings come and go. It calls the audience to question why feelings sometimes progress and sometimes digress.