The following is a quick spoiler-filled retro review of Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine.
“You always hurt the one you love,” Ryan Gosling’s character sings in Derek Cianfrance’s ‘love story’ Blue Valentine from 2010. That line tells you everything you need to know about this film, which tells a story about two people (played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) falling in love, starting a family, and how they become victims of complacency and expectations for their spouse.
As their characters fall in and out of love, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams give some of the realest performances I’ve ever seen from either of them. Gosling’s Dean meets Williams’s Cindy when they are complete opposites. Cindy is studying hard to work in medicine, while Dean is working for a moving company after having dropped out of high school.
Dean is charming and they seem to be good together, and although he never expected or wanted to be a husband or a father, he quickly becomes willing to devote his life to a family with Cindy. One might expect that they would grow together as a married couple, but that never happens.
One character becomes sick of the other, and they keep on disappointing each other. Blue Valentine never romanticizes the idea of a marriage, and what you are left with is a marriage in shambles. Love at first sight, becomes a marriage that only functions due to them wanting to stay together for their child.
Cianfrance doesn’t shy away from showing the dark sides of marriage, while juxtaposing them with the exciting beginnings of a relationship. Blue Valentine goes all the way, and it is both refreshing and heartbreaking. In one scene, you may smile because you get to see Dean and Cindy flirting, and, in the next scene, you may feel broken, dirty, and pessimistic.
At the end of the film, Cianfrance doesn’t hold back. The film doesn’t hold your hand. Life is hard, and you don’t always have the answers to why you are where you are. Blue Valentine is a love story, but it shows you that love may not always be enough to fix a relationship. Beginnings are beautiful, and endings are hard.
8.5 out of 10
– Jeffrey Rex