I know I’m late to get on the review train of Blue Valentine. So what, who cares? All you need to know is the following may contain some spoilers.
Despite knowing the plot, I was confident the movie was going to be great because my favorite actor, Ryan Gosling, is one of the stars. And well, he can do no wrong. However, I walked away from Blue Valentine completely moved and in awe of his female co-star, Michelle Williams. Ryan Gosling who? Williams’ genuine performance and portrayal of Cindy, a woman in a deteriorating marriage, was raw, realistic, and yes, empowering.
In short form, boy and girl fall in love. Boy takes responsibility for baby he knows isn’t his. Boy and girl get married and start their family. Fast forward to four years later and they are on the brink of divorce. There are multiple and complex factors as to why Cindy (Williams) finally reaches her breaking point. In my eyes, the fact that she reaches it and asks for a divorce is empowering. I am the daughter of a woman who stayed in an unhappy marriage because it was ‘the right thing to do for the children.’ So, to watch Cindy make the difficult decision with her daughter in mind was heart wrenching but refreshing.
Everyone I have talked to walked away from this movie with the reaction, “Gosh, that was depressing,” simply because the two main characters split up. To me, the film was not just a reflection of marriages, but relationships in general and the fragility of love. In the age of contrived, typical Hollywood feel-good bullshit endings, Blue Valentine was different. It was real. Despite America’s high divorce rate, it’s still obvious that most of us harbor the notions of happily ever after endings that we have been spoon-fed since birth and deviation from the norm shakes us up.
Life is messy, sometimes it hurts, and its problems can’t be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes with perfect lighting and a catchy soundtrack (no matter what Judd Apatow tries to sell us). BV was so honest that people tend to react in one of two ways. They can relate to it and appreciate it as a great story that explores the darker side of relationships. Or, they can shut down and think “Whoa, that’s way too heavy for me. When is the next romantic comedy coming out?” and miss the mark the director was trying to hit.
For her performance, Williams has received a 2011 Oscar nod for Best Actress and although she faces tough competition (Hello, Natalie Portman for Black Swan), I think she stands a chance at winning. Regardless of the outcome, Blue Valentine holds a special place in my heart (and my head) for whenever I need a dose of reality.
This post brought to you by Maureen.