Tuesday, February 1, 2011

dinner and a movie: Blue Valentine

Blue ValentineThe backstory: Michelle Williams is nominated for an Oscar (Best Actress) and an Independent Spirit Award (Best Actress). Both she and Ryan Gosling were nominated for Golden Globes as well (Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively.)

The basics: Blue Valentine is the story of Cindy and Dean. It begins in present time, when their marriage is quite strained. Then the film jumps between the first days of their relationship and the present.

My thoughts: I tend to be drawn to films (and novels) about relationships and marriage. I also tend to favor films nominated for acting awards (especially Best Actress) over films nominated for Best Picture. Blue Valentine, it seems, was tailor-made for me, and I loved every minute.

Blue Valentine isn't a glamorous tale; it's incredibly honest and real. Derek Cianfrance takes the viewer inside a relationship and exposes the good, the bad and the moments that shift the balance.  

The film was edited with restraint: early scenes became more powerful as more of the backstory was revealed later on. I enjoy non-linear narratives, and this film was extraordinary because of its performances and the way it was told. Were the film edited chronologically, it would not have been as powerful. If the viewer knew the story of their beginning, the end might seem inevitable. The lows were so low in this film, and the highs were so high. The interspersing of them was crucial to emotional balance.

Both Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling gave brave, raw performances. Both were incredibly emotive from start to finish, and neither overextended. The breadth, depth and subtlety of performance was truly beautiful.

I'm absolutely baffled why this film wasn't nominated for Best Picture Oscar, especially instead of the good but not great Winter's Bone and the beautifully acted but bad film The Kids Are All Right. Michelle Williams deserves the Best Actress Oscar, and I'll be cheering for her to win, even though all signs are pointing to Natalie Portman winning.

The verdict: Blue Valentine is grittier than The Fighter, more tightly crafted than Black Swan, and more emotionally affecting than The King's Speech. It jumped to the top of my Best Film of 2010 list, and it's a film I will watch again and again.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 114 minutes
Release date: It's in these theaters now
Source: I paid to see it at the Spectrum Theatres

bruschetta trio (left) and charcuterie plate (right)
Dinner: After the movie, Mr. Nomadreader and I ventured to New World Bistro Bar for dinner. We started with the soup duo: a conch chowder (sadly without bacon, but still delicious) and a root vegetable bisque with almond creme fraiche (also delicious). For a second course we indulged in the bruschetta trio special. All three had a lovely spread of goat cheese. The toppings were sundried tomato and pesto, mushroom tapenade with truffle oil, and fresh blackberries with black currant jam. Not surprisingly, I liked the truffled mushroom tapenade best. We also had the charcuterie plate, which featured venison salami, cured beef tongue and duck rilette. For our entrees, we shared the Montauk monkfish special, which came with lobster mashed blue potatoes, which were better than the fantastic monkfish, and a braised lamb shank with Greek macaroni and cheese. Dining out with Mr. Nomadreader lets me eat twice as many things, and I so love sharing each dish with him.

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  1. A couple of years ago I would have been all over this movie, and I will probably see it at some point, but I am finding that I don't like to watch the darker stuff so much anymore.

  2. Oh wow! It sounds like both the movie and the meal afterward were exceptional! I am going to have to give Blue Valentine a try, and have to admit that your posts these past weeks have me shuffling my Netflix queue! I know that they won't be available for awhile, but when they do come out for rental, I will be watching them! Thanks!

  3. I haven't seen this yet, because it sounded so depressing. But now I'm a bit curious. And I wouldn't mind someone else taking home the Oscar other than Natalie Portman (though, like you said, that's pretty much a shoe in at this point) as I think she did a nice job -- but cannot for the life of me see why she has won everything.

  4. Shoot - I hadn't even heard of this, but I need to check it out. It sounds so beautiful. I'm all for non-linear narratives too!

  5. I soooo want to see this!!!

    (Although I do hope Natalie Portman wins the Oscar!! But that might also be because I haven't seen Blue Valentin yet, hehe)

  6. Great review! I loved how raw this movie was - you make me want to see it again.


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