Sundance: Blue Valentine Review

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Written by: Derek Cianfrance and Joey Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling

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I have to put a bit of a disclaimer here as I wont be able to write about this film without being a complete and utter girl about it. There aren’t many films that metaphorically kicked me in the stomach as hard as Blue Valentine. However, don’t be put off by my soppy reaction, Blue Valentine is a relationship drama that will appeal to both sexes.

Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine is the story of a young couple whose marriage is falling apart. The film intercuts their present day and flashbacks to key moments in their relationship. This flitting between time frames works seamlessly and is used to explain the context of why they behave towards each other in present day. It also makes their current situation more moving, and utterly painful, as you see them meet and fall in love.

If you thought (500) Days of Summer was one of the most realistic depictions of a young relationship on screen to date this may just well trump that. Neither character is given sole blame for the breakdown of the relationship, both have their faults and flaws. I found myself feeling far more empathetic towards Gosling’s character, Dean, mainly because I found his character far more likable and Ryan Gosling’s performance is outstanding.

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The two leads give heartwrenching performances and five-year-old Faith Wladyka, who plays their daughter, is wonderful. You also can’t talk about this film without mentioning the Grizzly Bear score, which was my initial draw to the film. Rather than composing new songs, choral and instrumental versions of the majority of their most recent album, Veckatimest, are used to make up a score of sorts and it works perfectly. In fact, it was the moments in which their music was used which continually choked me up as it gives a real haunting pause and sadness at moments within the story.

Blue Valentine has beautiful cinematography, an incredible script and is a devastatingly realistic depiction at how easily a relationship can go wrong, simply because it went wrong. If this film doesn’t get to you, you don’t have a soul. It’s a must-see. — Charlotte

You can read more of Charlotte’s Sundance coverage over at The Documentary Blog or by following her on Twitter.

SCORE: 4 stars



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  • Mike

    wow, sounds cool.

  • harriette

    great film. poetic, daring, respects the viewer without having to insist on boring story lines. yes you are right great performances. and it doesn’t make story – or life or relationships – all “neat” and tied up in a bow. see it, or rather “feel” it.

  • I’m jealous that Gosling has gotten to act with two of my favourite actresses: Rachel McAdams and now, Michelle Williams.

    I was drawn into watching “All the Real Girls,” because I was told that it depicted a realistic relationship; however, I was majorly disappointed by that film. I wonder how “Blue Valentine” will fare with me when I eventually see it.

    Thx for this review and for bringing this film to my attention, Charlotte.

  • alechs

    All the Real Girls was amazing and made me realize how impressive Zoey Deschanel is as an actress and the hype she must have gotten when that film came out. Currently she seems to be doing the same old routine (more or less) each movie but I now understand why this is the case.

    This film seems pretty awesome, I can’t wait to hear the Grizzly Bear soundtrack.

    Also is Gosling’s hairline receeding at an incredible rate? He’s venturing into Nicholas Cage territories in that last photo.

  • Phil

    Ryan Gosling? I’m there

    the guy is an incredible actor who chooses projects very carefully

  • alew

    It`s not ryan gosling in the last photo – it`s the the director of the film :o)

  • Henrik

    Is this like reading a jocks review of Transformers then? There aren’t many films that metaphorically made me cum my pants as hard as Transformers.

    Smells like a period piece. I was not a fan of Goslings latest, Lars and the Real Girl.

  • khan

    very heart touching really nice one ,deserved to get an oscar .