BLUE VALENTINE – Sundance Movie Review
I got to see BLUE VALENTINE yesterday, and let me tell you, it was one of the best movies I have seen not only here at the Sundance Film Festival, but in general. It’s like the cast and crew sat down to come up with a movie that I would love, and man did I love it.
Blue Valentine tells the story of a married couple, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) who are struggling with their marriage, and in a last effort to reconnect got to a theme hotel. Parallel to that, we get to see the story of how they met and fell in love.
The story is simple enough and there isn’t a lot going on as far as action, but we follow the characters on a huge emotional journey. This is a film about character study, and so it’s hard to talk about Blue Valentine without mentioning the brilliant performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
When this film gets released, there will be a lot of awards talk for their amazing performances. When I talk about good acting and really preparing yourself for a part and giving it your all, this is what I’m talking about. Only a few actors can do it, and these two are on that short list. Their performance is so true to life, that you really feel you are peaking into the lives of real people.
But credit should also be given to director Derek Cianfrance, who shot the movie very fluidly with a lot of handheld shots. It looked like he was giving the actors the freedom to do the scene very organically and the camera would just follow them, which was key in giving that sense of reality.
The structure of the story flowed very well, and you really got involved with it the more you learned about Cindy and Dean. First, you see their marriage sort of fall apart, and then you go back and forth between their first meeting and how they end up falling in love and getting married, to the present and the failure of their marriage. It’s a really heartbreaking story to watch, which is made even more effective because of that contrast between the happy days and the unhappy ones.
And again, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were able to portray that contrast perfectly. On the one hand you have these careless young people falling in love, and on the other hand you get older Dean who settled into his life, and Cindy who’s disillusioned by the whole thing. It’s brilliant.
I cannot say enough good things about this film. It is an absolute must-see. It’s one of those films that you see and keep thinking about a long time after you’ve seen it. There is so much subtlety and beautiful, true to life scenes, that you will come out of Blue Valentine truly touched. This film reminds me why I love movies so much, and to me this is what cinema is all about.