Cinema essential: Blue Valentine

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Photo Courtesy of

Jeff Turner

“Blue Valentine” is a masterstroke, and a third viewing has confirmed this. It is perfectly paced, it engages the viewer; the performances are raw, unfiltered. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are simultaneously organic and carry a sort of exciting, movie-star energy.

The film is an American romantic drama directed by Derek Cianfrance. It was released in 2010 and depicts a married couple traveling back and forth through time between courtship and their turbulent marriage in years following.

The way Cianfrance structures the movie is genius. It’s easy to see why he’s attempted similar ambitious type of premises. There’s a film like “The Place Beyond the Pines,” which wasn’t bad, but far more mechanical, especially when compared to the natural flow of “Blue Valentine.” As it stands now, Cianfrance has not reached Valentine’s high.

Cianfrance said in an interview the film came about because he was trying to come to terms with his own parent’s divorce. It’s hard to miss, as the movie feels very personal and intimate.

The scene where Gosling plays “You Always Hurt the Ones You Love” is prominent in the marketing and any discussion about the film. That’s because the theme can be found all throughout Blue Valentine.

Another prevelant tune in the soundtrack is “You and Me,” a song done specifically by the band Grizzly Bear for the Blue Valentine soundtrack. Grizzly Bear is a rock band from New York formed in 2002.

The film is all about the ebb and the flow. Falling in love and falling out. Lovemaking and fighting, hatred. The beginning and the end. This adds a pacing to the picture, and a flow, where the viewer is neither happy nor sad. Simply numb, and in meditation.

The score by Grizzly Bear adds an ethereal, dreamlike element to the flashbacks. Like how the moments of your life run together, and inevitably it becomes hard not to romanticize them. Perhaps this was reality all along? We can struggle, and we can cry. But this is the way things are now, this is the way they ended up, the way they became.