Blue Valentine is a film that centers around a contemporary married couple in a struggle to keep the relationship afloat amidst a dimming romantic flame between them. The film is raw, unflinching, and boasts two of the most intense, brave performances from leads Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
The film portrays the relationship by cross-cutting between the present as a struggling married couple and their initial meeting and subsequent courtship. The film is such a roller coaster of emotion that it’s almost unnerving at times.
Gosling and Williams deliver two of the most powerful performances in recent memory, as the film forces the two actors to balance equal parts optimism and dejection, a rare feat that allows each of them to rip your heart out and put it back time after time.
The two burst off screen with Gosling channeling the intensity of Robert De Niro with Nicholas Cage’s ability to completely delve into the character like a chameleon. Williams is just a powerful, but her performance might be just slightly more impressive just because of how amazingly brave and one of a kind it is.
As the film unfolds, there are plenty of uncomfortable moments between the two, and as a viewer it’s at time bothersome because it feels as if we’re leering into the internal struggles of a marriage, watching the most intimate moments between two people that are commonly only privy to the people involved.
Director Derek Cianfrance shows dazzling style, and the intense nature of the content is elevated by his ability to allow both actors to shine at all times. His ability to tenderly develop and reveal intriguing plot points keeps the viewer just as on edge as Dean and Cindy.
Much like Black Swan, this film is absolutely not for everyone. Blue Valentine never takes the easy way out, but everything does feel genuine. Whereas Black Swan relies a great deal on supernatural developments and oozes eerie sexuality, Blue Valentine shines largely based on how real it actually feels.
There are multiple scenes that are very difficult to watch, including quite possibly the most uncomfortable scene I have ever seen. Even a day later, I’m still wrestling with some of the imagery, in particular a scene with Williams having a controversial medical procedure done. It is the first scene I have ever openly squirmed and grimaced while watching in a theater. The scene, and the movie overall, is still very tastefully and artfully handled, and it’s truly a testament to the talent of all involved that the film continues to linger in your mind even after you exit the theater.
The final moments are absolutely chock full of compelling symbolism, specifically involving fireworks. And it’s such a brilliant way to close the film.
Blue Valentine portrays a blue collar relationship on the rocks, and boasts two fantastic lead performances and a well-crafted script that simultaneously builds up and destroys the central relationship between Dean and Cindy, developing into one of the most romantically gruesome films in recent memory, and one of the finest films of 2010 worthy of all praise thrown in its direction, and in fact, probably even more. It’s a shame it only earned one Oscar Nomination (a much deserved nod for Williams as Best Actress). The film is chilling and wallops you in the gut for nearly two full hours, and is one of the finest films of 2010.
Score: 9.75/10 (Brilliant)