Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka
This review by Adam Truscott.
The One Where Blue Valentine Breaks My Heart
I’m devastated by this film. Absolutely crushed. So much so, that I question what I thought I was going to get out of it.
That said, this film needs to be seen. It’s the truest portrayal of a relationship I think I’ve ever seen. No Hollywood gloss. No happy endings (or is there?). Just truth.
I love Ryan Gosling. When I saw Half Nelson I watched it over, and over, and over. Ed Norton remains my favorite Actor acting today, but Half Nelson came at a time when Norton was dicking around. After the one-two-three of American History X, Fight Club and 25th Hour he just waned a bit. Disappeared. Gosling’s introduction helped me get over it.
I love Michelle Williams. The name of my own Blog a tribute to her gone but not forgotten Husband. She must be one of the most underrated Actresses around. And I have to admit, I like it that way.
So why did I end up in floods of tears? Why am I so gutted, and heart broken?
Well, I’m 30 in a few months. That has to be a factor. Gosling is undoubtedly playing someone of that age. And I think from then on I put myself in that role, as if it could be my life in a few years.
The film flits back and forth in time, and rather than being a gimmick, it works incredibly well. So much so, that flashbacks, (or flash forwards?), work as if they are dreams. The two leads remembering happier times. Or perhaps, my own theory, dreaming of where they may end up. (Clearly I like this theory, as it means they have time to change, and I can’t stress enough how much I wanted them both to change.)
They have a child. And in a twist I never saw coming, they use elements of their relationship to explain why they may now be the people they are.
Because as the film opens, with the death of a pet, Gosling drinking a beer in the morning… he’s not the man I saw in the brilliant trailer. Playing the ukulele on his first date with Cindy.
And so has she.
I’d imagine that’s enough to sell it to you, or make you run a mile. Truth is, whenever Mrs T gets “one of her films” out to watch on Bluey, I’m normally OK with it. I like a Rom-Com sometimes, to just shut my brain down. And this film is funny.
The first date I mentioned, where Gosling has Cindy tap dancing to his ukulele, and his “goofy singing… I can’t sing, so when I do, I have to do it goofy”. Its perfect. Poetic. I read in Total Film* this month that the Director had Gosling and Williams live together for a month. Sharing chores. Living as a couple. It shows. There is so much talk of chemistry between couples, or lack of it (Ricky Gervais was spot on about The Tourist). Here, it feels like a documentary.
So what of that scene?
The scene that almost got this film a rating that would have meant it was seen by NO ONE in the States, and Europe, rather than just a handful of people. (A tragedy. Don’t get me started.)
Well, in Goslings infinite wisdom, he sees the relationship failing. He offers Williams a night in a Motel. She can choose between the last two rooms available, but tellingly wants to make sure they are back home in the morning. She’s already decided its over.
When they get to the Motel, the Director makes some stunning decisions. One, he flits back and forth in time, more than ever.
We see that first date in all its glory. Realise that there was something there. Maybe there still is.
Then Gosling wants to get his “affection… I deserve that. I’m good to you”.
And what happens next had me squirming in my seat. Totally consensual. Almost too much so. Gosling stops, and says he can’t carry on – despite it being what he wants more than anything. He wants another child. But realizes there is nothing there anymore. From her, at least.
The way it’s played is unbelievable. So honest. So heartfelt.
The next half hour I don’t mind admitting I was genuinely choked up. The acting continued to destroy me, and I had a moment where I realized I have to do everything I can to ensure I don’t turn into Dean.
Not that he’s a bad person. He’s a brilliant Dad, and incredibly devoted to his wife. Almost obsessed with.
But he stopped seeing the world from her point of view. Missed how she was feeling. Or worse, knew what was coming. Blocked it all out.
I am happily married, with a gorgeous three year old. I need to keep it that way. I don’t like the idea of playing the ukulele on my own.