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
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