I am going to soap box it here for a second. The MPAA those fine folk who decide what rating a film will receive ticks me off to no end. Their system feels arbitrary, outdated, and stupid. You can only use the "F" word once in the non literal sense and maintain a PG-13 rating. Because that's the problem, kids hearing the "f" word too many times. For want of any other description, it is terribly stupid.Why do I bring this up? Well, because the film I watched tonight, a powerful and incredibly touching film has been assigned an NC-17 rating for a sex scene that is not <more>
erotic, not violent, not disturbing. It is graphic, but more that that it is sad. Really sad. I'll talk more about this later, but the idea that we have a system that gives "The Human Centipede," "Hostel 1&2″ and all of the "Saw" movies an R rating without a second thought gives this film an NC-17 stuns me. I honestly cannot make sense of it. This is a beautiful, touching, and wonderfully authentic film that deserves a shot at release. There is no logical way a reasonable human being could say that this is less appropriate for a teenager than any of those listed above. For some reason we think graphic torture is fine, but sex and nudity will be the downfall of us all.My favorite poem is T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I've always identified with it and I think it is one of the finest pieces of writing ever produced. Specifically I am enamored with the line, "Shall I, after tea and cake and ices have the strength to force the situation to its crisis." This describes a situation most of us have been in. You're in a relationship that is failing, you know it's failing, the other person knows, your friends know, but it just hasn't reached that crisis point that forces it to end. That is what this film is about.Most films center on the beginnings of a relationship the honeymoon , the middle where things have reached a comfort point , or the divorce proceedings, but you rarely get the moment when the relationship dies. It's hard to present well and it's difficult to watch. This is what happens when the things that were once funny and cute aren't funny or cute anymore. We've all been there and it is painful.If you think of a relationship as having a life then Blue Valentine is that life at the moment of death where the life that is dying flashes in front of your eyes. There is a combination of present time and flashback showing how these two people came together and how the inevitably fell apart.Gossling and Williams are both superb in this film. He plays all the clumsy sweetness and frustration of Dean perfectly, and she plays the damage and need to be loved with a quiet power that is absent from most performances today.These are two people with a very idealized and romanticized view of love. They view it as something that is there or it isn't. From their backgrounds it is obvious why. Neither of them has any exposure to a couple working at it, tending to the relationship. Things are good, then they aren't. Williams character says early on, "How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?" That is a question that has plagued people as long as there have been relationships. At some point your feelings will change and if you are unequipped to change and grow with them, then any relationship is destined to fail. The two stories falling in love and falling apart are told in intersecting circles. You see the beginning of the end, then you see how they meet, you see the relationship deteriorate further, then you see their amazing first date. This style allows you to see how they fell in love with each other, but also showed the lack of foundation the ultimately doomed them. Through most of the film it is obvious that the only reason they stayed together as long as they did is because of their daughter, and their absolute love for her.Gosling as the devoted, hard working father is touching, Williams as the overworked mother who seems to be raising her husband along with her daughter is touching. The dynamic of goofy, doting father, and concerned, loving mother is brilliantly played, and creates some genuinely sweet and heartbreaking moments.This is not an easy movie to watch. It's quite brutal, emotionally, at times. The scene that earned the NC-17 is quite graphic. The two go away to a romantic hotel for a night to try and rediscover something, and end up in a graphic sex scene that is just hard to watch. It's not as graphic as say "Monsters Ball," but there is a resistance by Williams, followed by a resignation, she doesn't want to, but she'll do it. It isn't violent, it isn't a glamorized rape scene, it's hard to watch because it's just so sad. There is no way to deny that this is the death of the relationship embodied in a single moment. He is still infatuated with her, but she has moved on and there isn't any of the old spark left.While I did enjoy this film it is most definitely not something I would watch often. It is good enough to deserve another view or two, but it is just to heartbreaking. This script went through 66 drafts over 12 years and it shows in the attention to detail, the brilliant pacing, and the way it allows a look and silence to speak volumes. This is a well acted, solidly written and directed film that is well worth at least one viewing, just be aware that it won't be an entirely pleasant experience.
Blue Valentine: The Most genuine and heartfelt romance in more than a decade. (by george-napper)
If ever there was a perfect film that defines the romantic relationship for the 21st century, Derek Cianfrance's 'Blue Valentine' is that film. We begin at a secluded ranch house where a little girl is trying to find her lost dog. We then see her father Ryan Gosling comforting her. Enter mom Michelle Williams , the concerned mother who tries to balance work and her child's needs. Seems like a generally happy household, right? Wrong. Though they may not want to admit it, Dean and Cindy's marriage has been on the rocks for years. Dean decides to take his wife to a sex <more>
motel that ends up being more like a Star Trek motel to try to rekindle the way they used to feel about each other. The reason for their bickering is unclear until the flashbacks that have been following the main plot line give you a full understanding of why things have deteriorated so. You see them meet each other, fall madly in love, and then experience well, you'll have to see it yourself.Personally, I think this is the tragic romance to end all tragic romances. Films will try to beat it, but they will have to work long and hard before they can eek out an ounce of the genuineness with which this film tells its story. Ryan Gosling's performance is one with a true everyman quality while allowing for a full-fledged, interesting character and a brilliantly realized character arc. Michelle Williams does the same. She delivers this role with so much raw truth that you almost forget that it's Michelle Williams and not just an average woman. I would not be surprised at all to see both of these superb talents get nominated for Best Actor Oscars, along with Derek Cianfrance for Best Director and the writing team for Best Original Screenplay.It's heartbreaking, it's deeply moving; it will have you laughing, crying and singing its praises. Even though the MPAA seems to have a beef with truth in filmmaking, it's hard to imagine this film not being discovered over time and being recognized for the infallible masterpiece that it is.
great film! great acting! great soundtrack! (by lombardoisking)
i saw this movie at the Sundance film festival and i can't get it out of my head. everything about it is incredibly inspired and brave and poetic. the acting is astounding i can't remember the last time i saw 2 movie stars be so raw ... the honest, unflinching portrayal of a real relationship is something you don't see much, especially in American film, again, the actors really deliver here ... the way the images and the music work together creates a sort of dream-scape. this movie is special. i was blown away by it. i can't wait until the release so i can see it again. i <more>
hope it is as good as i remember! and i really hope they don't get scared and change it because people need to see this in the movies!
You will not see better performances this year (by tjlarson_)
No matter what else is yet to be released, you will not see two better performances this year than Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.It's almost impossible to imagine anyone in anything coming close. In the defensive, aggressive way he turns every line of dialogue around on the speaker as a hidden affront to his insecurities, Gosling reminded me of no less than De Niro in Raging Bull as the older Dean. Playing the younger version, he channels the charm, romanticism, and recklessness of a 1960s Paul Newman.Williams, who has emerged as the best American actress 30 and under, pulls off a <more>
performance that recalls Gena Rowlands' work with Cassavettes. Which is not to say either is an imitation, they aren't "doing method" or aping the authenticity of previous greats. They're 100% the real deal, so good you can only compare them to the best, and they fully embody these characters in every frame. They made me believe, they made me care, they broke my heart.The story is a familiar one because it's the most common source of drama in life and art but avoids cliché and instead handles the subject with uncommon insight and grace. The lack of context scene-to-scene keeps the audience engaged and on their feet, filling in the intentional holes with their own experience and lending the film a universal relatability. In good times and bad, we can recognize our own triumphs and failures in love. It captures the joyous highs and devastating lows of relationships better than anything I can recall. Gosling singing while Williams tap dances, what she reveals to Gosling on the bridge and how he reacts, the scene in the doctor's office towards the end... they achieve that sense of cinematic transcendence so rare these days. They simply don't craft scenes like this or give actors roles this fully realized in Hollywood anymore.It's clear this was a labor of love for all involved and it paid off in spades. This is the best American film I've seen this year.
Is romantic love the ultimate form of masochism? (by dharmendrasingh)
Director Derek Cianfrance may wish to stop wasting his talent on TV and make films his full time occupation. Cinema could use him. His 'Blue Valentine' studies the breakdown of a marriage through beautiful and heartbreaking juxtaposed scenes of past joy and optimism with present scenes of misery and depression. Flitting back and forth in the marriage, it asks: Is romantic love the ultimate form of masochism?Fine young actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play Dean and Cindy, who unite through a dogged courtship. Dean is easy-going, happy-go-lucky and content in his removal and <more>
packing company. He is chary of formal education, but has a philosopher's outlook. Cindy is sexually over-active and, although occasionally frolicsome, is more mature than Dean. About five years on, romance becomes repulsion, and their marriage becomes one of inconvenience. Make no mistake, this is uncomfortable viewing – not the sex, which serves the story quite well – but the paranoia, pettiness and pugnacity in the couple's interaction. They reach their nadir when he practically begs for affection, and she pleads with him to be more ambitious.No two actors have complemented each other this well for some time. In an age where vapid acting is vogue, Gosling is a novelty. He is very charming, yet he has a mournful countenance, and possesses a James Dean-like vulnerability. He'd be my poster-on-the-wall if I were 13. I can't get that entrancing scene where Dean serenades Cindy out of my head. Dean's philosophical outpourings may be interpreted by some as drivel, but more sensitive viewers will detect the shattering honesty. A memorable maxim: 'Girls spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then marry the guy who's got a good job and is gunna stick around.'We go to the movies – many of us – to escape real life. Comfortable as voyeurs, we let our favourite stars distract us and we forget our worries. But 'Blue Valentine' shows a truth no cinema can shield us from. It mustn't be missed.www.scottishreview.net
recommended by myETVmedia, great movie. (by etvltd)
With his film Blue Valentine, director Derek Cinefranc brings one of the bright lights of the Sundance Film Festival to TIFF. The film documents the bookends of a relationship, juxtaposing the past, Dean Ryan Gosling and Cindy Michelle Williams meeting and falling in love, and the present, as they struggle through the painful disintegration of their marriage. In the Q&A following the screening Cinefranc revealed that the genesis of the film came from his own life. As a child he had two nightmares – one was nuclear war and the other was that his mother and father would get divorced. <more>
When, as an adult, his parents did separate Cinefranc sought solace in film and literature but was unable to find anything that he could relate to; anything that didn't depict a "Romeo and Juliet version of love". With Blue Valentine, Cinefranc has created a work that any child of divorce, or anyone who has ever loved and lost, will find realistic and moving... read more @http://www.myetvmedia.com/film-review/blue-valentine/
A heart-wrenching and cautionary tale of love (by deproduction)
I came away from this film more wary of love and relationships than any film I've ever seen. You look at Dean's character Gosling's best role to-date and wonder what it is that he did wrong. He fell for a beautiful, young woman Williams , stepped-up to care for her and her yet-unborn daughter, and shifted his life to focus entirely on being a good husband and father. He was so charming in his interactions with his daughter, and was also loving towards his wife enduring more rejection from her than most could, trying to breathe love back into the relationship. Even his outbursts <more>
seemed attempts to give her what she wanted.So many reviews talk about this being a story of falling in and out of love. My response is surely subjective, but I don't feel Cindy ever loved Dean. She was desperate, pregnant and facing life as a young parent, and Dean was there to hold her. As a mother and wife, I found her to be unlikeable and selfish, cold and unloving. Cindy was probably not intentionally manipulative, but from her initial reluctance to tell Dean about her pregnancy, to her secrecy around her job offer or the encounter in the grocery store, these are all subtle manipulations and lies, hiding the truth and her true self from Dean.I heard the director say he was sympathetic to both characters. Any sympathy I had for Cindy as a young woman caught in a relationship and family she did not hope for was overshadowed by the fact that she made the choices that led her there, and dragged others in with her. I did not sense any growth in her character to indicate she'd move on to create a brighter future for herself and Frankie.Dean, on the other hand, was a good person, eager to love, and all-too-willing to devote his life to Cindy and daughter Frankie a sparse, but strong, performance by Faith Wladyka , and in the end, he's left with a broken heart and a broken home. I'd love to feel he's better-off without Cindy, if only it weren't so heartbreakingly clear that he loves her and her daughter immensely. To me, the film served as a warning in love to be careful where you put your energy.
Red, White, and Mostly Blue Valentine (by cheryllynecox-1)
This family album is familiar. A beautiful small town girl meets an eccentric but charming stranger and they fall in dumb. Five years and one enchanting child later, his romantic notions sustain the illusion of his happiness, but her reality is not so poetic. This is a quick snapshot of Dean, Cindy, and Frankie. What happens in this family is what happens to so many others when affection is replaced by contempt, when passive aggression becomes less the former and more or less the latter.Derek Cianfrance has been developing "Blue Valentine" for nearly 12 years, and his film is not <more>
just a complex portrait of its two main characters, it's also profoundly honest as it examines intimacy from every angle. Emotionally and physically, the romantic story of Dean and Cindy flashes backward in beautifully edited matching shots that show us the first flourish of affection, and the final backlash of frustration. Cianfrance doesn't force his audience to choose sides though it was probably easier for me to identify with Cindy. That's what is the most compelling about this film. I cared about both of the main characters and didn't want either to lose. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both delivered superb performances and each took a little piece of my heart. Or as Tom Waits said in his song, "It's the tattooed broken promise" Dean has a "Giving Tree" tat on his upper arm .The camera work and art direction are exceptionally effective. Set primarily around Independence Day, we see flags, fireworks, and all realm of red, white, and blue. This motif is subtly conveyed with the lighting and costumes throughout the film and continues throughout the credits. Fireworks serve as a last reminder of the explosive power and fractured remnants of a brief illumination.When this film is finally released, I expect it will receive an R rating for some fairly graphic nudity and explicit sexuality. There is also a brutal fight, alcohol consumption and smoking. And if that's not enough, a near-abortion might be too much for some, but hey, this is a very contemporary portrait of a familiar American marriage.
Realistic Portrayal of a Broken Marriage (by angasher)
An incredibly realistic portrayal of a broken marriage, but the ending left me wondering what the heck? In the final scene when the wife is telling the husband that it's over and she can't stay in this marriage any longer, you're hoping that he will be able to convince her to stay. It seems she finally acquiesces. We think they're going to keep trying to make it work. Then we see him say good-bye to his daughter and walk off. I was kind of irritated by this ending. It was dissonant like a final minor chord in a film score. I wanted some resolution which I didn't get. I <more>
guess that's what makes this account of a broken marriage so realistic because sometimes it doesn't work out and, despite our best efforts, there is no resolution.