BLUE VALENTINE--Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Starring Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka/written by Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne & Joey Curtis/rated R/ 1 hr 54 min
Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Richiusa
(G) I am sorry we didn’t see this film sooner. There really is no excuse for it, but when it finally came to VOD we jumped on it. The story—the part of a film that ultimately seals my opinion—is very real and thought provoking for anyone who is, has been, or wants to be involved in a monogamous relationship. Barbara and I viewed this film together, and interestingly we came away from it with very different views in many regards. I felt that this was more a movie about the male character and she felt it was more about the female…go figure. Originally BLUE VALENTINE was saddled with the threat of a NC-17 or even an X rating because of some realistic sex scenes. However, for the most part these scenes are between married and/or consenting heterosexuals so, in a year of Black Swan and The Kids Are All Right, it was hard to justify this punitive restriction.
Aside from a slightly off-putting tendency to jump from past to present and back again without warning the script is one of those that (when well-acted and this one is) will stick with you for days or even decades afterwards, because it took me a few days to connect all the dots. The basic themes are that men and women are different and that while we are all products of our upbringing to a large degree, we must still take responsibility for the successes and failures of our relationships and our lives.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are perfectly cast and are convincing in their individual (married after love at first sight on the part of the male and slow to develop out of necessity love for the female) character’s development. My hat is off to the small team of writers for great, realistic dialogue and just enough character history to explain the actions of the two main characters. Michelle gets pregnant by someone that treats her poorly and then meets Ryan who falls quickly in love. Gosling is a good person, who grew up without a mother but is willing to support a child that he knows is not his. In fact, the strength of the relationship that he has with his adopted daughter is just one of the many ingredients that are added to a seemingly simple plot to spice up the story into a whole new dish. I give this one 3 and ½ binoculars on the insight into male/female perspectives alone.
(B) I was not all that impressed with this movie. I already knew that men and women are different. The performances were excellent by both lead characters. I felt sad when the movie ended. I wanted more for this couple and some of the stark reality disappointed me. I guess I am a bit of a Pollyanna. It made me think of the many relationships that can’t stay together because of the lack of true communication. I give it 2 binocs. That’s an average of not quite three.