Oo! It's the dreaded (almost) NC-17 rated movie with Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Lars and the Real Girl) and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island) that everyone talked about before it came out because of its graphic sex scenes. Yes, this movie does have sex scenes that flirt with graphic and they're very uncomfortable to watch, but if that's all you talk about from this movie, it's a damn shame. Blue Valentine follows a married couple from the time of them meeting and falling in love to the time of their marriage falling apart. That story couldn't possibly have been told more often, right? But what makes this one unique is how the stories overlap each other and are downright painful to watch. In fact, pain is what this movie is all about. I myself come from a broken home. My parents got divorced when I was 13 and anyone who has ever lived through a divorce, either as a child or spouse or both, will have a really hard time watching this. Some of the scenes are so realistic and so flawlessly portrayed that it made me cautious to keep watching. What's so impressive about these scenes though is the control over them. It would be easy to do a movie about a failing marriage that's full of black and white characters that just scream the whole time. Blue Valentine doesn't allow that to exist while it's under the careful command of director Derek Cianfrance, who mostly has a background in documentaries. That's obvious as you watch it because the whole film has handheld camera work and heavily improvised dialogue. In fact one scene that takes place on the Brooklyn Bridge was improvised so much that Gosling scared the crap out of the crew and Williams when he climbed over the edge of the bridge (where there was no safety net) and threatened to jump. It's one of the many scenes that is so uneasy to watch that it makes you want to shut it off. I'm not a big fan of Gosling or Williams, but they did a great job in this. Williams actually is the better of the two. Gosling's character doesn't change through the film since he's a husband that doesn't want to lose his family. Williams had to pull off someone who falls in love and falls out of it while filming and she does it with finesse. I felt that she loved and hated, both with passion, multiple times in the non-linear story. What prevents this film from breaking into the realm of greatness is mostly what makes it so good: the pain. Blue Valentine is a miserable movie and loves every second of it. It never once tries to be uplifting or beautiful or charming. It's not romantic. It's not sweet. It's a movie about a crumbling marriage where you feel every sting of heartbreak. But why would anyone want to watch that...especially more than once? I don't at least.
Blue Valentine (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B+