Blue Valentine is an example of what can be achieved if you want to make a “realistic” romantic drama. I remember reading the reviews for the movie when it was first released and the same sentiment was constantly repeated: this is not a date movie.
That sentiment couldn’t be more accurate. This movie intertwines the beginning (and seemingly the ending) of a relationship, representing a very realistic and sometimes too harshly accurate depiction of how a lot of “love stories” actually turn out. The beginning of the relationship is not a charming man whisking a beautiful woman off her feet and the final moments of the relationship are not based around a huge scandal or unforgivable wrong-doing. It is a fair representation of people falling away from each other and the best element is how accurate, gritty and real it seems.
It helps that it is acted by two of the best actors around at the moment; Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Gosling is almost unrecognisable from the heart throb roles that he has made a name playing; taking on a character that is balding, over-weight and unappealing. His performance is fantastic though, being the coy but confident man who charms William’s character at the beginning but becoming something much more different towards the end of the relationship.
Williams matches Gosling’s performance. Her character doesn’t go through the same transformation and that is the real story of her role. To feel saved and then trapped, not really making the progress she hoped. She’s never a traditional victim but you can’t help but feel for William’s character.
That is the real triumph of the movie. The film presents two central characters who you never side with. This isn’t a story about one person versus the other. It isn’t a film about an abusive, violent or overtly destructive relationship. It is more of an accurate examination of what makes a relationship work, what people look for and in some cases, what people are willing to settle for.
The writing is never corny or cheesy. The scenes never unrealistically dramatic and the characters always feel like they are acting convincingly, doing what you’d expect someone in their situation to do. It isn’t a date movie, but it is certainly a movie that makes you consider and assess whatever relationship you may have or have been in before.
Overall, Blue Valentine is a well told, brilliantly acted drama that demonstrates a realistic look at the beginning and end of a relationship. It demonstrates the changes and acceptance a character can go through, presenting them in often stark realism that can be difficult to watch. It’s never less than compelling though and that is down to the two, brilliant central performances.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)