Review: Blue Valentine

The movie “Blue Valentine” is about the married couple Dean and Cindy and about their relationship – or at least about what is left of it.
Not satisfied with what life has had in store for them, they live together in a small house somewhere in the blue with their daughter Frankie and Megan, their dog. Cindy is a nurse, who originally wanted to become a doctor herself – but Frankie came into her life, when she just had started college. Dean on the other hand had never planned to be a husband and father, yet he accepted his daughter and his new lifestyle. Well to be honest: not perfectly. He’s stuck in a job he doesn’t like, coping with his disappointment by drinking.

The one thing, that keeps Dean and Cindy together and that tears them apart at the same time is love.
Their love, that had begun as a rough, raw and passionate one and now remains as a part of their responsibility for each other.
While Dean still desperately loves his wife, but just doesn’t know how to show her, Cindy is emotionally distant to the man at her side.
It both hurts and frustrates him.

Bildquelle: Senator Film
Bildquelle: Senator Film

The movie manages to show the different facets of their time together. The flashbacks show happier times, show how their love grew and got stronger, facing problems in the very beginning. But it always seems, that Deans feelings are more intense than Cindys. He is even willing to accept Frankie as his own daughter not knowing if she really is (most probably not). I guess two quotes describe best, what the both protagonists think about love:

Cindy:I never want to be like my parents. I know they must’ve loved each other at one time right? To just get it all out of the way before they had me. How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?

Dean:
I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like, one girl, ’cause we’re resistant the whole way until we meet one girl and we think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t marry this girl she’s so great. But it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and is gonna stick around.

Which in their special case seems to be true, because throughout the movie I kept asking myself: why? Why does Cindy keep Dean at a distance? Why doesn’t she talk to him? Why doesn’t she try to figure things out?
Maybe, because she accepted, but never embraced the fact, that he is the man of her life. Maybe because her love wasn’t strong enough to keep them together forever. Or maybe because she didn’t do, what her granma told her: trust herself with regard to love.

But most of all I think this movie isn’t just about love and its fragile structure, but also about life and how people cope with it.
It’s about broken dreams and hopes, about expectation and reality.
Cindys dreams are shattered, they lie broken on the floor. She will never be able to work as a doctor, because she didn’t have the possibility to study, when she was younger. And now the money she earns is needed for their living and can not be invested into her education. She’ll always ‘just’ be the nurse, when she wanted to be the doctor. She wanted to achieve this for herself. And her broken dreams finally break her. She gets kind of introverted, can’t take life as it is. And she starts blaming Dean – she projects her problems onto him.
Dean is talented, yet he never gets the chance to use his talent to earn money, he never tries. Like he says in the movie, he never planned on being a father and husband, but when he got into the situation, he embraced it. The love you can sense between him and his daughter is sensational regarding that she most probably isn’t his real daughter. His dreams and expectations are shattered as well, but he seems to move on and not mourn after something he’s never had.
He even tries to fix things with Cindy. Well, he could have done it better than going to a cheap motel with her somewhere a few hours away from their home. But at least he tried, giving all he could to show her, that she counts.

Apart from the content of the movie I want to comment on the portrayal of the two main characters. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams totally live their roles up to the limit.
The emotional tension between them is almost touchable. Michelle Williams portrays the torn woman perfectly well, presenting her inner conflicts and the mask she puts on in public. I especially liked, how she developed the character – starting as a young woman with dreams and hopes and ending up as a woman, who lives her life from day to day, feeling more of a responsibility rather than love for her husband.
Ryan Gosling shows, that he can rock characters like Dean as good as he can just be the handsome guy from next door. He portrays the emotional fragility of Dean extraordinarily well. I could sense his despair in discussions with his wife, sometimes even to the point, when I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything’s going to be alright. But that would have been a lie…

All together this movie is amazing. And it surprised me on so many levels. 9 out of 10 for “Blue Valentine”.
Yours,
Sarah

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