Men are more resilient to relationships until they meet that one, then they dive in full force, where women are more likely to find love on fundamentals based on a good job and if he is good to her. This is a paraphrased line in the film that I think has some truth and gives a lot of explanation and value to our characters. BLUE VALENTINE intertwines the blossoming and demise of a relationship paralleling their first moments to their last moments. It is both exhilarating and depressing. Exhilarating when we see the two young lovers discover each other. Depressing when years down the road we see that same relationship fall apart.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a lower income married couple with a little girl. Immediately we see a goofy loving dad who plays with his child but with less of a parenting role undermining his wife. We also see a serious mother who is taking on the entire parenting role getting her daughter ready for school and then off to work as a nurse. The film then cuts to the same young couple the day they first meet. Both are a little more wide-eyed and hopeful and not entirely how they are now. It would be a surprise if we looked at the past of any of our lives and compared it to the thoughts of other’s or even our own perceptions now. As the film cuts back and forth we find out more about them as individuals and as a couple.
I absolutely love the beginning of their relationship. That new love comes so natural and sweet, I was grinning and giggling through every scene. The journey is beautiful even through the hardships of meeting the family and ex partners. Until we are snapped back to reality when the film cuts to the last days of their relationship, where these once love birds are emotionally detached full of anger and passive resentment.
The director wisely introduces us to their little girl at the beginning of the film then takes her away until the end again. Giving the right amount of attachment so the audience would fully be aware of her as a driving force but without the distraction of actually being there because ultimately the film is about Dean and Cindy’s relationship.
Make no mistake the film relies heavily on Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams who are excellent at their craft. These are two actors that you can see absolutely love their job and take it seriously. Both are young actors with some extreme talent and an impressive body of work. Here they are mesmerizing. They have a chemistry on screen as though they have lived together for years. Gosling has a natural likability. From his charm as a young high school drop out to a balding middle-aged father yearning to be loved, he embodies his character. Williams emotes a subtle wisdom yet frightened young girl and mother wanting more. You can see the constant fight to stay or go behind her eyes. The confusion and exhaustion come across seamlessly within both actors.
Between this year’s RABBIT HOLE and BLUE VALENTINE we have some very rough films to get through. It is not fun to watch, but that does not mean it is not a great film. It saddens me that the divorce rate in America is nearing 50 percent. I will spare you my detailed analysis stemming from my religious background but I think we can all agree that someone will be getting hurt and that is never a good thing. BLUE VALENTINE reveals the process and pain in one couples relationship cycle. It’s not always easy to stomach but I think it’s a quality film that gives a deeper understanding of some people’s emotional change and torment.