Blue Valentine

“How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?” – Cindy

Trying to capture the true essence of Blue Valentine is a daunting and depressing task, but that quote could strike a chord with anyone. Are all emotions truly temporary in nature, and is there any way we can know how long they will last? As Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) show, what feels like everlasting love in one moment, may not last forever.


Dean and Cindy are young, working-class individuals that are fighting to stabilize their marriage despite a growing mutual animosity. Their daughter, Frankie, is the only thing that motivates them to patch things up and try to find a solution to their ever-increasing problems. Through flashbacks to a happier time and present-day fights, Blue Valentine expertly shows the decline of a once promising relationship.

Discussing a film of this nature is challenging because you, like Dean and Cindy, are in awe of the emptiness and lack of positive emotions left in the wake of their marriage. We see the beginning and the end, but very little in between so our level of understanding regarding their declining love is kept simple to allow for a deeper understanding of their emotions during those crucial periods.

The film starts with present-day and the disdain they have for one another. We see Dean acting childish with his daughter to undermine the more disciplinarian Cindy. Later, Dean continues demeaning Cindy by blaming her for the disappearance and subsequent death of the family dog. Immediately and continuously, Dean is vilified as misogynistic and condescending. This becomes a recurring theme that seemingly puts more fault on Dean’s actions when the film is trying to give equal blame.

As Valentine moves into the flashbacks, the youthful joy in Dean’s personality and the hope in Cindy’s accurately set up the decline that follows. Once beyond the initial confusion surrounding the move to flashbacks, the courtship between Cindy and Dean plays out in an odd manner. From the beginning, it is clear these two would be best suited as close friends and only temporary lovers, but Dean’s desire to be a romantic and Cindy’s need for comfort and companionship overtake rational thinking and they get married. Next to the continuous artsy camera work (off focus, close imaging), this inherent flaw in their relationship is the biggest flaw of the film.

To counteract – and ultimately diminish – that flaw, Williams and Gosling give excellent performances. They play off one another in such a way that could convince anyone they had been married for a number of years and currently hate one another, but don’t want to let go. The scenes in the motel perfectly expose the nature of their relationship as one of opportunity and fervor, not deep love.

Blue Valentine is the type of movie that will have couples looking at one another with nervous, furtive glances and will serve as a warning signal for single individuals to not settle. The balance between informative flashbacks and revealing present scenes keeps you riveted with a desire to help them find a cure for their struggles that doesn’t result in separation. Couple that with the intensely philosophical, but still thought-provoking, dialog and you’ve got a film everyone can relate to.

    • mithil293
    • June 15th, 2012

    Grt one….this one michelle williams movie I hate to miss..

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