Movie: 4 stars
Picture: 4 stars
Sound: 3½ stars
Extras: 3½ stars
“How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?” This piece of dialogue sums up the main theme of Blue Valentine, a film that, trying to work out where love goes, looks back to where it came from in the first place.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) is a fun-loving, easygoing man who is happy just being happy with his family, living day-to-day in various jobs, from furniture mover to house painter. But his wife, Cindy (Michelle Williams), a pretty young woman who has never left her hometown but has progressed from being a college student to a nurse, is unhappy in the same scenario. Although she finds Dean funny, charming, and a wonderfully loving father, his lack of ambition and their constant arguments due to their differing philosophies of life have left her at the end of her rope.
Blue Valentine’s depiction of a relationship in decline is down to earth, focusing on sad, sick, and dying members of a family — generations of people who no longer love each other. Nothing much happens: The dog gets run over, temptations appear, jealousies erupt. Sex, abortion, and other topics are all honestly depicted.
In others’ hands, the film could be downright dull. Yet, though grim at times, it’s never humdrum or dreary because of the quality of the edgy acting, as well as the flashback structure that very steadily reveals how the present circumstances developed. Moods shift as past scenes comment on the years to come, and current scenes comment on the past. Just as the characters do not fall in love at first sight, a fondness for Blue Valentine only grows on you gradually over the course of its 110 minutes until you finally realize you’re fully involved.
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