Blue Valentine (2010)

“In my experience, the prettier a girl is, the more nuts she is, which makes you insane.”

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams and John Doman

The truth is this is what love is like, forget those sappy rom-coms.

Blue Valentine follows the lives of Dean and Cindy, from their first meeting right on through to their marital life. And romance isn’t all roses as some other Hollywood blockbusters may have you believe. No, this is the real stuff. The good, the bad and the downright ugly.

As I keep saying, and sorry to reiterate, but Gosling is becoming one of our generations greatest actors. He has such a fantastic charisma, presence and work ethic that you can see him give 110% effort with every role he takes.

And Gosling’s approach to the character of Dean is no different here. Somehow he manages to convey this sweet guy, very family-oriented and undeniably loving, intertwined with frustrated, heartbroken and anxious qualities. He occasionally has a few philosophical outbursts too and while some may deem it drivel, it’s actually a refreshing (albeit revealing) look at the harsh truths of love. The roundness of the character must have been a hard feat to pull off but Gosling does it with complete justice.

Williams is the perfect counter-part for Gosling. It has been a while since I have seen such a onscreen great couple, complementing each other so well. As the somewhat love-cynical Cindy, Williams captures this woman struggling with her relationship and growing evermore bored of the same old married routine perfectly. Another little star of the film was Faith Wladyka who plays Frankie, Dean and Cindy’s little girl. She is just adorable. For such a young age Wladyka can really act, there is this fantastic energy between her and Gosling (though I do think he has a lot to do with this). I didn’t doubt their relationship for one second, it was lovely to watch and completely endearing to see how well they interacted with each other.

Director Cianfrance is either one smart man or just incredibly lucky. He decision to take the script away from Gosling and Williams encouraging them to improvise was brilliant, and his method behind capturing the different stages of their relationship was also inspired. The scenes when Dean and Cindy were first becoming acquainted were filmed first. This meant the fresh, exploratory and tentative vibe they projected was honest; Gosling and Williams were truly trying to get to know each other and were careful what to say, as one would be at the start of a relationship. Then in preparation for married life, Gosling and Williams lived together for a month in the house they were later filmed in. They spent a lot of their time grocery shopping, cooking dinner and learning to pick fights with each other.

This method acting has worked wonders with overall quality and character development within the film. Gosling and Williams seemed completely at ease and natural around each other in the ‘later stages’ of their relationship, just like that of a married couple. Due to this, Blue Valentine, in my opinion, is one of the most realest and relatable relationships I’ve seen projected onscreen. Everything about the way Cianfrance had decided to approach the film was spot on.

Blue Valentine refrains from cliches yet this is a story we are so familiar with, probably because it is more closely aligned with real-life love than any other romance films so far. It depicts honestly what Hollywood’s blockbusters avoid and isn’t afraid about upsetting the norm. From times of true elation to times of deep heartache, the film manages to capture the most identifying factors of this relationship between Dean and Cindy, making it one of the best romance inspired films I have seen to date. Blue Valentine is the tragic romance to rival all tragic romances.

Star rating:  8/10

Directed by Derek Cianfrance.

Running time 112 minutes.

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