Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blue Valentine (2010, Derek Cianfrance)

Blue Valentine stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple raising their daughter, as the film flits between the past and present we view their falling in love and the subsequent downfall as it falls apart over time. This is an honest depiction of love, a slice of life rather than a slice of cake, but in these early scenes and the magnetic draw of Gosling we're treated to enough magic to maintain some semblance of faith, in love. Blue Valentine is more of a statement about the difficulty of love rather than the impossibility of it.

Keeping up with the non-linear events is easy by tracking Mr. Gosling's hairline, he plays Dean, loving father and husband to Cindy (Williams) and daughter Frankie. He's shown to be content with his home life though Cindy clearly isn't, over the course of the film by being taken back to their beginnings we learn of the foundations that make up their marriage. Through differing aspirations and the unplanned expectancy of Frankie, their lives are thrown down different paths, both adapt and deal with their dealings in very different ways.

The different time frames are edited with an important precision, making the transitions seamless, with some further inspired editing and framing providing a fluency of profound results. The present scenes, as the couple embark on celebrating Valentine's Day are difficult to endure. As the commending of their relationship is such a forced and difficult attempt from the start, Dean with desperation to spark some passion into the marriage and Cindy meeting him with cold diffidence. As the jump cuts take us to earlier happier days, the feeling is like coming up for air, emerging from the suffocating depths of marital despair to embark on Dean and Cindy's humble, charming beginnings,

In typical boy meets girl fashion, Dean falls in love with Cindy instantly. He's moving and settling in an old man into the care-home where Cindy visits her Grandmother, he relentlessly seduces her with his cool boyish looks, and of course she eventually succumbs. Their first encounters are naturally played out, no Hollywood gloss hangs over this film. The scene most memorable is of Dean playing his Yukalaylee and serenading Cindy while she tap dances in front of a closed shop's doorway, there's a sense of innocence and purity lost in this sequence, added by the sense of dread that we'll soon be back to view what became of this bright young couple.

In a meltdown shared by the couple as a drunk and embittered Dean visits Cindy at the hospital where she works, the fight is about as raw as anything we've seen from both Gosling and Williams. As the fight escalates and the marriage truly hangs in the balance, we root for them and the old times they've shared, much like they surely do. In an endearing post-fight scene the two of them desperately search for Dean's wedding ring which he through into some shrubbery whilst enraged, if there's an image to some up a deteriorating marriage it's this one.

As the film ends on a sombre yet hopeful note, we can only hope for the best of this couple who've been so honestly and rawly shown to us; we've seen them both at their best and their worst in the most intimate and private settings. As Dean's Yukalaylee song sings out over the credits melancholia sets in as we witness the end of this uncompromising depiction of not just young love, but love in any instances. This is Dean and Cindy's personal story, but a story anyone who's ever been in love can relate to in some way. Along with Derek Cianfrance's simplistic and assured direction, Gosling and Williams make Blue Valentine an honest and entrancing drama, making for a difficult yet irresistible experience.