Death of a Marriage
First thing which you should know, if you watch a movie because you want some simple entertainment with an actor you like then don't be fooled into watching "Blue Valentine" because it stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. This is not glossy entertainment or fun, this is a gritty movie about a dying marriage and different to normal movies made for the masses. That brings me the second thing and a personal bugbear, just because a movie is different or gritty doesn't make it good and unfortunately there are those who have praised "Blue Valentine" for being different to the norm. Now I'm not saying that "Blue Valentine" isn't good, it certainly features two brilliant performances, but I don't think it is the exceptional movie that many made it out to be.
Having married young and had a child Dean (Ryan Gosling - Fracture) and Cindy's (Michelle Williams - Wendy and Lucy) marriage has hit problems. Cindy is tired of Dean's lack of ambition who as a decorator is happy with his simple job which allows him to have a beer at 8 in the morning and be home for Cindy and their daughter Frankie in the evenings and weekends. Cindy's work as a nurse, the weight of normal life and her frustrations with Dean have lead to coldness towards him as she can't stand to show him any affection and it is only a matter of time before it is all over.
So there we have it "Blue Valentine" is a movie about a marriage which is dying and we get shown this as if the marriage was a human being with its life flying before its eyes. What that means is that whilst we watched Dean and Cindy's marriage in the final stages of dying we also witness how they met and how circumstances lead them to marry young. I won't tell you why they married young but basically we have the honeymoon period which works in contrast with the death flicking back and forth between the two.
Now the thing is that this is all done in gritty realism both the honeymoon period as well as the death of the marriage and so there is no gloss to this. I say gritty because there is a scene where someone gets beaten up, there are sex scenes and a general feeling of real life as we watch the marriage die. But none of this for me necessarily makes it good, yes it is different to the norm and in fairness well put together but it feels like it is trying too hard to be different. Maybe those who have experienced a dying marriage will connect with the realism more but for me it felt forced and a little unbelievable.
So whilst I can appreciate certain aspects of how "Blue Valentine" comes together at the same time feel it is forced I have to say the performances are brilliant. Both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are brilliant as Dean and Cindy in both the honeymoon period and the death of their marriage and it is because their performances are so spot on that you can feel the emotion. That emotion is mainly pain because watching their marriage fade to nothing is painful especially with Dean trying his best to preserve it to no avail. It is for me the one reason why I would suggest watching the movie because the acting is worth it on its own.
What this all boils down to is that "Blue Valentine" on the whole didn't do it for me, maybe I am not into gritty realism but to me it felt forced and unreal and just because it is different doesn't make it good. What makes it worth watching are two actors who show what great talents they are and it is the performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams which end up staying with you rather than the actual movie.