“Blue Valentine” Movie Review

     There is a scene in “Blue Valentine” where a guy meets a girl simply by looking at her from across the hallway in an assisted living home.  He works for a moving company and is helpfully assisting a customer.  She’s visiting her grandmother.  Each is about to close the door behind them when their eyes lock on one another.  What ever it is, each certainly saw something in the other that day, but if they knew then what would come just six years later, they probably would have shut the door behind them and ignored each others stares.

     Blue Valentine is an examination of the courtship and eventual married life of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams).  When the film starts they are already a dysfunctional couple, though Dean does a good job of masking it.  Cindy is the couple’s primary bread winner, working as a full time nurse.  Dean takes odd jobs but primarily cares for their 6 year old daughter Frankie.  Life has certainly taken its toll on both of them as they seem to have significantly aged in the present day scenes when compared to the flashback scenes.  The story takes us back to how they met and the rocky road that was their dating life.  Cindy has spent her early years living quite a promiscuous lifestyle and one day it comes back to bite her.  Shortly after she begins dating Dean, she finds out she is pregnant from a previous boyfriend.  In what has to be a haunting decision, the couple decides to keep the other guys child, get married, and live happily ever after.

     The problem is the romance wears off quickly and the couple is left with many harsh realities.  It seems Cindy is walking on eggshells with everything she says and does.  Rarely does a word come out of her mouth that isn’t met with severe scorn from Dean.  During the present day scenes, Cindy runs into her daughters real father at a liquor store.  When Cindy shares this with Dean he responds with all the wrath of years of built up anger, leaving her no choice but to apologize just to end the confrontation.  As they are driving from the liquor store, she suddenly pulls over claiming the need to use the restroom and runs into the forrest.  We then see she doesn’t need to use the restroom.  She just needs to get away for a moment as she clearly doesn’t know what to do.

     Dean seems desperate to keep his marriage together, but we don’t see this from Cindy.  She has clearly given up and even exclaims “there is no love here for you anymore!”  As the story progresses, you as the viewer really hope the ending doesn’t involve some sort of tragedy, but as I viewed this film (thinking the same thing), I realized that even I have become numb to what the real tragedy is here.  The inevitable Divorce.  That is really where the tragedy is.  When two people join in a union such as marriage and then choose to end that union, they really can never fathom the consequences it will cause.  The effects on both sides of the family, but most of all the children.

     Blue Valentine does a fine job of reminding us of this tragedy in our society.  I’m sure many will see this film and think the ending isn’t really all that sad.  No one dies.  There is no violent outcome.  Just the sad truth that this couple had lost whatever it was that bonded them just six short years before.  There  has been a lot made of the performances by both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in this film and I’m here to tell you the hype is real.  Both performances deserve recognition come awards season and I suspect the film itself may squeeze out a Best Picture nomination.  At its root, Blue Valentine is not a complicated film, but it effectively shows how complicated a marriage can become.  It seems over time, the marriage becomes less about Dean and Cindy and more about the world they’ve created and all of the stake holders they share it with.  There are many factors and mistakes made that leads to Dean and Cindy’s demise, but the story in Blue Valentine does not make them special, just ordinary every day adults trying to survive this thing we call life.  GRADE: B+