Blue Valentine

Directed By: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

Indie romance flicks are often so much better than the formulaic, crappy love flicks Hollywood manufactures.  In an indie romance, you'll get a story with real people with real problems.  In a mainstream romance flick on the other hand, you'll get an overly predictable flick starring Katherine Heigl or Sarah Jessica Parker that always has a sappy ending.  If I had to compare them to drinks, a good indie romance would be an aged fine wine, while a Hollywood romance would be the liquor you drink out of a brown paper bag.  In Derek Cianfrance's romantic drama Blue Valentine, we thankfully get a fine wine.

Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling), a laborer for a moving company, and Cindy Heller (Michelle Williams), a pre-med student, somehow meet while Cindy is caring for her grandmother (Jen Jones) in Pennsylvania.  Sparks fly, and Dean begins to court Cindy.  Soon after they begin their relationship, Cindy learns that she’s pregnant.  Dean and Cindy eventually get married and start a family despite the fact that Dean is probably not the child’s father.  The unborn Frankie (Faith Wladyka) is probably the daughter of Cindy’s previous boyfriend Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel).  Several years later, that spark is gone, and Dean is fighting to keep their marriage afloat.  He takes her on a weekend getaway to a motel to try and salvage what's left of the relationship. The film juxtaposes these two points in their lives together.  As we watch their marriage crumble, we get flashbacks of when the pieces were falling together as they fell in love with one another.

Blue Valentine is a film to which you have to warm up.  It's a slow, somber movie that takes its sweet time in getting to the point.  Director Derek Cianfrance feeds viewers bits and pieces of information sparingly, so you have to come into the film making assumptions about the main characters' relationship with one another.  Most are validated though as the film progresses.  This artistic decision ultimately makes the film more engaging and less engaging at the same time.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams deliver strong performances though I can’t believe that Gosling is playing a blue collar worker.  His persona undermines his ability to portray Dean.  Imagine Fabio as a janitor.  Now, imagine Ryan Gosling as a working class drunk.  Is that believable?  I think not.  No matter how great an actor Gosling is, his larger-than-life persona undermines the authenticity of his performance as a bum.  Michelle Williams on the other hand convincingly portrays Cindy with a great performance.  She lacks no authenticity in her acting.

Blue Valentine is not a film I particularly love and will watch over and over again, but it is a flick I thoroughly enjoyed.  I respect Cianfrance, Gosling, and Williams for what they put together in this somber romantic drama.  The film is fairly graphic, and I may have needed a few wine coolers because of this.  Blue Valentine gets a 0.03% rating.