Is This You????: Blue Valentine (2010)

Some films are uncomfortable not because they are graphic or insensitive, but instead because they are heartbreaking.  Derek Cianfrance's recent film Blue Valentine is unyielding it is depressing, sober, and tragic imagery.  It is a film that is brutally honest and at no point provides an image of positivity or hopefulness.  Yet the film in its tragedy still provides moments of sheer emotion inducing beauty, as occurs in the ukulele scene. It serves as a spotlight for the uncomfortable truths about fleeting love, lust which leads to both the physical and emotional decay of all those involved.  It exists to poetically question the validity of sacrificial love and if giving oneself to a family ever proves fruitful.

The film in a non-linear fashion follows the building and tumbling of a couples marriage.  The husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) is a semi-employed painter who strives to love his daughter, despite not being her biological father.  He also seeks the affection of his wife Cindy (Michelle Williams) who, as the film makes apparent is growing more and more distance from Dean who she feels is doing nothing with his life.  What makes the situation more tragic, are the flashbacks, which make it brutally apparent that Dean sacrificed his potential to marry Cindy and raise her daughter in a normal family.  Nonetheless, the film ends on a bitter note as Dean leaves Cindy, per her request, accepting that she no longer desires his nurture.  Dean his left to stare in disbelief as the rhythm of children's laughter and fireworks linger in the background.  Fireworks whose brief captivation mirrors the couple's tragic relationship.

This film is undeniably artistic, particularly in its use of color.  The flashbacks shot in grainy soft focus are paired with light blues and reds, while the present is much more dreary often incorporating heavy lighting and browns and blacks causing the couples flaws to come forward in a rather unflattering manner.  Furthermore, the film borrows heavily from both the French New Wave and the American Counter Culture film era.  Through jump cuts and scenes of public intimacy it is obvious that Cianfrance holds the works of Godard and Hopper in high regards.  Yet, as any good piece of artwork does, the film exists as its own unique offering combining skilled handheld cinematography, fine-tuned acting and a banshee-like soundtrack to create a story of loss and self-reflection that is simultaneously ridden with despair and promise.

This is a must see in my opinion, and while I enjoyed it on Blu-ray it is certainly not a must, I would say snag up a DVD version to add to your collection as soon as possible.

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