My wife and I wisely passed on seeing Blue Valentine on Valentine’s Day. Instead, we watched it on Presidents Day.
It is about love gone sour, and the flashbacks to a happier time, when love was fresh and exciting and not stifled by the routine or pathology. Michelle Williams, Oscar-nominated for this film, and Ryan Gosling, who could have been, are also executive producers of the film, which suggests that the actors really believed in the story. The film makes it easy to tell when the film is in the present-day and when it’s in flashbacks. Much of it is well done.
From John Rodat’s essay in Metroland: “Much of the dialogue of Blue Valentine was improvised, and the actors went to some lengths to develop a real-life closeness to facilitate the conversation. Early scenes of the meeting and courtship were filmed first, with later scenes of their married life waiting until after the stars had rented a house together, living and shopping on a budget appropriate to the circumstances of their characters, and learning to bicker.”
Yet we both found the film depressing as all get out. There’s no “if only he did this” or “she did that.” Love just dies. I admit I looked at my watch when one more reminder of what was once good flashed across the scene.
This movie is best known for the fact that it was initially slapped with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, a commercial kiss of death, not that it’s going to generate boffo box office. The ruling was successfully appealed, and the simulated oral sex scene which had generated the original ruling didn’t seem any more provocative to me than any other simulated sex scene in an R-rated film.
Still, I just can’t imagine seeing this movie again, unless I have a burning need to be in a melancholy mood.