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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blue Valentine

“I’m interested in family dramas because, you know, because I feel like in a family, you really get to know who a person is. You get to know the contrast of a person, the light and the dark inside of a person.” – Derek Cianfrance

I watched a movie last night called Blue Valentine. The cinematography spoke when the characters were not provided words and it seemed to me that the writer wasn’t sorting out his parents’ marriage or juxtapositioned questions of self. Cianfrance had made this movie speak to a much larger population. In the interviews, it’s mentioned that he re-wrote the script 75 times, that the film took 12 years to make and that the actors lived together as a married couple… creating budgets, grocery shopping and having Christmas. In the world of digital manipulation, I found it intriguing that Michelle Williams had signed up and sat with this script for 6 years and Ryan Gosling had it for 4 before the story came into its own.

Sorted in with the on-line reviews was Jackie Cooper’s: “Gosling and Williams are terrific but the movie is a downer from start to finish. Not just ‘Blue,’ this is a ripped, torn and shredded Valentine.” Why do people think that looking inside the why’s of what we do as human beings is a bummer? It’s the journey. If life has a sign up sheet of “okay, check off this lesson and learn it” then this film would be a term paper on romance, on marriage, on how we love one another and harm one another. It would be a very clear reminder to all of us to embrace the reasons we fell in love to begin with and to hold onto them like a preserver when the tides get rough…and boringly normal.

Gosling commented that if he had to shoot the movie again, he couldn’t because he had put everything he had out there and, afterward, had to do a comedy with Steve Carrell just to shake it off. Williams said that as the script was being written, and re-written, her life’s perceptions had changed and she brought to it this agonizing restless ambition, the drive to have the two cars, the picket fence, all of the “things” we are supposed to have. Both characters lost sight of what they had, him in the quiet desperation of how do I please thee let me count the ways and she in how do I change thee and make us both so much better. How many relationships endure that?

The last scenes as the credits roll are pictures of the two of them from different times in the film, snapshots burning in July’s fireworks. Gosling said that he watched one of the pictures burning, crisping into a heart shape from the outside where the only remainder was their lips touching. I would imagine as the house lights came up, the married couples were reaching for one another’s hands.

It was a Blue Valentine.

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