If you’re a newlywed in the throes of a blissfully romantic honeymoon phase, optimistic about finding your soul mate amongst the billions populating planet Earth, in the process of courting a potential significant other or simply a romantic at heart who still clings to the notion that finding ever-lasting love is somehow more likely than being struck by lightning or winning the lottery — good luck — then don’t watch “Blue Valentine.”
Derek Cianfrance’s film about the slowly painful and gut-wrenching decline of a marriage is akin to simultaneously being slapped in the face and kicked in the nether regions. This is the saddest movie.
The film begins when Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (Michelle Williams) daughter Frankie (Faith Wladyka) realizes their family dog has gone missing. And, try as they may, the dog doesn’t return, foreshadowing events to come.
Dean is a painter who enjoys his job. He can start drinking at 8 a.m. and seems perfectly content with his marriage and raising a daughter.
Cindy works at a doctor’s office and isn’t happy with her life’s progression; she has dreams of something more, but doesn’t seem to know what that entails. She isn’t particularly bright, and appears unhappy for no discernable reason.
It’s easy for the viewer to sympathize with Dean who fulfills his minimal life goals by becoming married, raising his daughter and being employed.
It’s difficult to empathize with Williams’ character, however, because past or present, her negative and nagging attitude is simply depressing, especially when directed toward Dean for being content.
“Blue Valentine” starkly contrasts the couple’s courtship and uncomfortable marriage, which six years later is unfortunate.
The flashbacks are filled with the subtle moments in the beginning of a relationship that tug at the heart strings, like dancing to a playful ukulele tune under the illuminated lights of a street lamp, but ultimately the subtleties turn to irritants as the years progress.
In a desperate attempt to save his marriage, Dean books a night in a hotel room for the two. The “Futuristic Room,” is reminiscent of a cheesy adult film, and ultimately Dean’s attempt at rekindling the romance and saving the marriage fails miserably.
The movie and marriage quickly spiral out of control as an inebriated Dean follows Cindy to work after she abandons him in the hotel room. He punches her boss, resulting in her layoff and ultimately the marriage ends after a prolonged argument.
Dean finally walks away, despite Frankie’s plea, while fireworks explode in the background juxtaposing the birth of a nation with the swan song of yet another marriage.
Very rarely does a movie have such a physical and emotional impact on the viewer, but with “Blue Valentine” I was left feeling drained and quite literally sick to my stomach. This drama may hit too close to home for those who have experienced the consequences of an ill-fated love. Though the acting is top-notch â€“ perhaps too much so — “Blue Valentine,” is an uncomfortable experience.
3 out of 5 stars
“Blue Valentine,” is rated R for a scene of explicit sexual content.