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Blue Valentine

Graham Eley

Many top-notch films emerged at Sundance 2010 as the US’ leading film festival achieved a new maturity with work likely to withstand the test of time rather than the more familiar would-be cross over fare typical of many of the recent editions.  There was a unique insider’s view in Winter’s Bone of the kind of secret community hinted at in Deliverance, a perceptive reflection on the impact of mainstream values on alternative families in the The Kids Are All Right and perhaps the audience’s most genuine confrontation yet in Restrepo with the reality of the War on Terror on the front line.  Derek Cianfrance’s mature indie offering, Blue Valentine, was amongst the many other films to impress and it now arrives in the UK.

 

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams co-star as Dean & Cindy in a marriage gone wrong saga where we see the beginning and end of the relationship in parallel.  On a first date of sorts, Dean woos Cindy with a quick turn on his ukulele and some stylised ‘goofy’ singing that is surprisingly effective.  He sings the standard You Always Hurt The One You Love and the romantic setting, not dissimilar to that in John Carney’s Once, distracts us from the lyrics.  As the final credits roll, we hear the same scene again without the visuals, at which point the lyrics take on a new significance entirely appropriate to the damage that the characters have subsequently inflicted on each other but the earlier romantic connotations of the motif remain.  The contrast of the two meanings neatly reflects those at play in the parallel editing throughout the film and adds to the audience’s strong sense of poignant loss at the close.

 

In between, there is a forensic examination of the marital breakdown at extremely close quarters.  Everything is horribly muddled from the start; Cindy discovers that she is pregnant with her ex’s child.  She plans an abortion but withdraws at the eleventh hour.  Inadequate means, limited support and no prospect of a reunion with the abhorrent father, everything looks rather bleak and, then, Dean, one of life’s dreamy romantics, waves his magic wand and offers marriage.  Dean remains static, he is happy with Cindy and her daughter, he is content with his lot.  Cindy moves on; she matures, she is ambitious but Dean’s altruistic sacrifice hangs over her every move.  A crevasse emerges, frustrations kick in and things come to a head when, in an extraordinary misjudgement, Dean persuades Cindy to get away from things at a seedy sex themed motel from hell.  We now move onto an altogether different plane; the air is thick with suspended violence, the air is thick with Cindy’s loathing and the air is thick with Dean’s desperation.  This is John Cassavetes’ territory at its most acidic, at its most cynical.  The stage is set for the parties to cross the line from whence there is no return and they do.

 

With Dean and Cindy dominating almost every scene, the success of the film rests, to a large extent, on the persuasive qualities of the two leads.  They do not disappoint; delivering improvised performances that engage with the audience every step of the way.  Michelle Williams received a deserved Academy Award nomination for her portrayal where she competes in one of the most competitive categories of this years’ awards season, which Natalie Portman has so far dominated with BAFTA and Golden Globe success.cialis online with prescriptioncialis 60 mg onlineprice of cialis at costcofcialis sublingual buy online shipping cialis sublingual no prescription cialis sublingual comprar cialis sublingual cialis soft tabs sublingual price cialis sublingual cialis sublingual brasil

 

Powerful, compelling and extremely real, Cianfrance continues the traditions of specifically American indie filmmaking but with a very contemporary edge.

  • Year: 2010
  • Country: USA
  • Filmmaker: Derek Cianfrance
  • Screenwriter: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne
  • Producer: Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof
  • Cinematographer: Andrij Parekh
  • Editor: Jim Helton and Ron Patane
  • Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel & Faith Wladyka
  • Duration: 114 mins
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