Friday, 14 January 2011


The tagline for Blue Valentine is "a love story for anyone who has ever been in love" and this film is an incredibly honest look at a crumbling relationship that will connect with anyone who has experienced the first flush of love or the pain of rejection.

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end... and so does every relationship.
Movies predominantly deal with either the beginning or the end of the romance, never the middle. It is the beginning and end that define a relationship and Valentine skillfully intercuts the disintegration of a marriage, with the initial courtship between the two lovers.
By doing this, it makes the break up more painful to witness but also providing reasons as to why it was doomed from the start.

Using this narrative structure, the audience don't get to see the everyday life that Dean and Cindy had and therefore it is left open to your own interpretation as to whose fault it is that the marriage is on the rocks.

Dean is initially more sympathetic in the audiences' eyes as he is funny and charming during the romance and tries to make an effort to save his marriage, yet as the film plays out you can see Cindy's point of view that his carefree attitude and lack of ambition is incredibly frustrating to cope with.

The reason that there is such empathy towards the couple is down to the performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Both are excellent and show a real spark and connection at the start and convince that they have lived together so long that the love has slipped away. Williams in particular excels during the later scenes as she has the tougher job of turning audience sympathy towards her.
Special mention should also go to the adorable girl who played their daughter. So cute.

Most of the publicity surrounding the film has been about a pivotal sex scene that highlights the fact that there is no way back for the couple. It is difficult to watch as Williams gives in to Gosling's requests for sex but it still feels forced and makes for uncomfortable viewing. The MPAA in US gave it the dreaded NC-17 rating, giving it a higher rating than Saw 3D which is quite frankly ridiculous (this is the same organisation that gave The King's Speech a R for strong language).
Thankfully after years of ridicule, the BBFC have finally got their act together and started rating films properly so it got a 15 rating.

However the more interesting sex scene in Blue Valentine involves a tongue. It is the third film in the last couple of months to feature a scene involving cunnilingus (the others being The American and Black Swan). It seems that adding a shot of someone going down on a woman is the arthouse independent equivalent of retrofitting a blockbuster into 3D. It worked for other films so we should put one in our film to make more money.

A film with much to recommend it, but just don't make it a first date movie as it will probably put you off your potential romance for life!

4 stars

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