I actually paid to see “Blue Valentine” (gasp) because I had heard it had very good reviews (it’s currently has 88% on Rotten Tomatoes) and I thought it would be one of those “life changing” movies that stick with you long after the credits roll. However, I was a little disappointed by the film, partially because it moves very slowly.
The Plot: Dean (Ryan Gosling, “All Good Things”) and Cindy (Michelle Williams, “Shutter Island”) have been married for about 5 years and have a child together. Their married life, however, is not going so well, and although Dean halfheartedly tries to revive it (in one scene, they go to a shady motel for the night), it ends up culminating to the point where Cindy can’t stand to be around him anymore, for various reasons, including his temper and tendency to drink. What is interesting about this film, however, is that we see them in their past incarnations throughout as well: as they meet each other, date, and eventually marry.
This movie reminded me a lot of “The Notebook,” partially because Gosling was in that film as well; there are two scenes in particular that stood out to me as being very similar to scenes in that movie. The difference, however, is that the characters in “The Notebook” end up being happy with each other, and “Blue Valentine” is a portrait of a marriage slowly but surely dissolving. What makes the movie sad is that we see how happy they used to be when they first met, and when Cindy had dreams of getting her college degree and becoming a doctor. I almost wanted to scream “don’t do it!” at them when Dean proposes to Cindy when she is pregnant, even though she tells him the baby is “probably not” his.
My opinion: Maybe see this film. If you can sit through the slow pacing of it, you will probably like it, but it ended up being much more of a “slice of life” andor indie movie than I thought it would be. I can see why both of these talented actors got Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for their roles, as they are basically each playing two different people (their happy pre-marriage selves and depressed post-marriage incarnations) and Gosling in particular was very good in his role; it is hard to make him look unattractive, but the big glasses and receding hairline of his current-day self definitely helped. The movie was originally rated NC-17 as well, but was reduced to an R rating, and it is easy to see why – there are quite a few sex scenes, including a really controversial one (which probably is why it originally received an NC-17). The best part of the film, in my opinion, is the end, but a few minutes of really heartbreaking scenes cannot save an entire movie.
“Blue Valentine” is currently out in theaters, and in the metro Detroit area it is playing “exclusively” at AMC Forum, AMC Star Great Lakes Crossing, Birmingham 8, and AMC Livonia.