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McCoy on Movies: "Blue Valentine" Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: "Blue Valentine" Movie Review
It's earned Michelle Williams an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, but does "Blue Valentine" live up to its reputation as one of the best films of the last year?

"We're like Sid and Nancy ... Or Kurt and Courtney ... Wait - none of those couples ended well, did they?!" Dean (Ryan Gosling) embraces his wife Cindy (Michelle Williams) during a moment from the Academy Award-nominated "Blue Valentine."

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladkya, John Doman and Mike Vogel

 

WRITER: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis

 

DIRECTOR: Derek Cianfrance

 

WEB SITE: BlueValentineMovie.com

 

THE PLOT: A film that earned an Oscar nomination for one (and arguably, it should have been both) of its cast members, "Blue Valentine" stars Michelle Williams as Cindy and Ryan Gosling as Dean, respectively. Married with a young, happy-go-lucky daughter named Frankie (Faith Wladkya), Cindy and Dean are no longer the loving couple they once were. While glimpses into their past reveal how the couple met, enjoyed courtship, persevered through various hardships and ultimately fell in love. Now, however, the Pennsylvania couple — Cindy, overworked and Dean, constantly angering Cindy with his immaturity — is going to a getaway resort in hopes of saving their now-failing relationship.

 

What ensues may be the salvation — or unraveling — of six years of a life they have shared.

 

THE TAKE: "Blue Valentine" was supposedly once going to be rated NC-17 for its sexual content, and that would have been a shame. For while the film does have sexual content (which is NOT even its most striking visceral moment, by the way), it is not exploitative or overtly titillating for titillation's sake at all. It is merely a part of their relationship in times both good and bad. What makes "Blue Valentine" one of the best films of the 2010 (it came out in other cities before arriving in the Cincinnati area, local McCoy on Movies readers) is the unflinching, realistic way in which it explores the various elements of Cindy's and Dean's relationship from start to (potential) finish.

 

In a culture where people often mistake tons of bad romantic comedies for the way love, sex and relationships are supposed to be, "Blue Valentine" stays firmly grounded in reality. Thus, in the courting phase of the couple's relationship, it shows how they fall in love, but when as their relationship matures, it also shows how stress — some out of their control, some in their control and some simply resulting as a result of the mental fatigue brought on by the other stress — is bringing them down. You get to see a lot of the reasons the couple responds to things the way they do. (Let's just say the phrases "daddy issues" and "Peter Pan syndrome" help explain some of each character's respective actions). But when you see them play out in real time in their relationship, it's still a bit heartbreaking.

 

There is a point at the film in which Williams' character prophetically says the equivalent of "I can't stop it and neither can you!" You know these are people that care about each other, but they have reached a point where the pain of being together is greater than the fleeting moments of joy they experience. (Not to use a reality TV example, but if you've been watching a third season of a certain show set along a certain state's coastline, you've likely seen a certain couple's relationship unravel to the point you've thought, "These people need to break up but can't seem to get away from each other." "Blue Valentine" will produce the exact same feeling.)

 

Love may be what brings us together, but in today's world, is it enough to keep you together? Watching the phenomenal job executed by Williams and Gosling under the watchful eye of director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance, that question may be one a lot of couples watching "Blue Valentine" might be scared to answer.

 

PARTING SHOT: A film that may save as many relationships as it may end, "Blue Valentine" isn't a remarkable film for its story, but it is a remarkable look at modern romance that anyone who has a valentine should see.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):


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PHOTO CREDITS

© 2011 © The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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