peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2022 03 12 BlueValentine

Blue Valentine (2010)

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I remember enjoying Michelle Williams's effort in Manchester by the Sea; this is something similar. Also Leon has softened me up to Ryan Gosling who is fine and quite fun here too.

Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance (Oscar nominated for Sound of Metal) shows us the beginning and the end of their relationship in a smooth interleaved style that, after synchronising in the middle, slips into a relentless groove. I get the sense that, like me, Gosling's Dean reached peak adult around age 25 while Williams's Cindy is still studying, aspiring to become a medical doctor. We don't see the middle, where his schtick and her desire both wear out. She spends a lot of the movie saying "no" and thereabouts — these are modulated and aren't always in exasperation. The cracks in their situation are often skilfully exposed and complexified by their daughter.

For mine they could've omitted the psychologising, the parental dysfunction and the workplace predation, though I grant they wanted something to hang a plot from. (Further streamlining may well have yielded Manchester by the Sea a few years earlier.) I'd've preferred more of just what Dean thinks he's doing in rescuing Cindy; it struck me that even as he seems to shoulder responsibility early on he may simply have been taking advantage of Cindy in a vulnerable moment, and that he unreasonably expected her gratitude to last forever.

Roger Ebert: three-and-a-half stars. I don't agree that Dean was looking for a witness in Cindy, but he definitely took what he could get. Dana Stevens: too many of these movies may bring the human race to extinction. A. O. Scott: she wants him to want things but he's satisfied with what he's got.