{2jtab: Movie Review}

Blue Valentine - Movie Review


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5 Stars

There’s a memorable scene about halfway through Blue Valentine in which a young couple playfully performs an impromptu song and dance number – he, strumming the ukulele while warbling the lyrics to Doris Fischer and Alan Roberts’s You Always Hurt the Ones You Love, she, performing an off-beat but charming soft shoe accompaniment. Not only is the scene a beautifully illustrated example of the first tender moments of falling in love, it also perfectly demonstrates the contrasts upon which co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance builds his film. This wonderfully candid scene (one of the year's best) is followed by one in which the same couple, some six years later, is shown self-destructing in a rage of workplace violence… all the love now gone from their marriage: love/hate.

The “he” is Dean (Ryan Gosling), a beer swilling, blue-collar, high school dropout with a goofy smile and a mile-wide streak of charm and charisma. The “she” is Cindy (Michelle Williams), an eager, go-getter attending medical school, but slowly falling to the enchantment of Dean’s poisonous allure. Their heartbreaking story of falling in and then out of love is told via a series of past and present flashbacks that unfold like a book of memories… the horrible present, Dean and Cindy’s wrecked marriage juxtaposed with the magical moments of new love from their past: old/new. It’s this slow grinding down of the gears of marriage that Cianfrance brings so realistically to the big screen, aided by the heartfelt performances of Gosling and Williams that’ll surely garner recognition come Oscar time.

So what happened to Cindy and Dean? Nobody has cheated, neither is physically abusive, and they both love their daughter Frankie, played by first timer Faith Wladyka. So, where did it all go so wrong? Though there’s a big chunk of time missing from their relationship - the middle years – it’s not too difficult to fill it in ourselves. Probably nothing major. As often happens, each added a few pounds as the years went by, both lost their dreams and aspirations (mostly Cindy), and now the mannerisms once seen as cute little love ticks, are now grating habits.  Cindy begins wondering if she ever really loved Dean in the first place. “What does it feel like when you’re in love?” she asks her grandmother (Jen Jones) who even questions herself whether she was really ever in love.  Dean just wants it like it used to be: past/present.

It all comes to a nasty head during a spur-of-the-moment act of trying to rekindle the sparks of love lost. Dean books a room at a cheesy “sex motel” with themed rooms – they’ve selected the “Future Room” with neon lights, blacklit lava lamps and a revolving bed. But their night ends as they always do… in a swirl of arguments and fights fueled by alcohol and widening gaps of agreement. It’s a bit difficult, even frightening, to watch what was meant to be their special evening erode. We feel like reluctant onlookers with front row seats to the stuff we’re not supposed to see – the inner-machinations of the destruction of someone else’s marriage. But just when we’ve begun to get our fill, Cianfrance skillfully contrasts the mood with the delight of an earlier-days flashback. We once again revel in the shine of their newfound love: old/new.

Many will question the motives of the film by asking what is the point in depicting the horrific destruction of a marriage with such brutal honesty? Cianfrance is on the record as not liking his movies to “preach” to an audience by spoon-feeding answers about characters and why they do what they do. Instead the award-winning filmmaker prefers to ask tough questions and let us pull the answers from our own personal experience. With Blue Valentine he’s certainly created a beautifully tragic tale of contrasts: Man/woman; love/hate; happiness/sadness; and light/darkness. Though we care deeply about what happens to Dean and Cindy, we also find a bit of solace in knowing we can just walk away from their train wreck of a marriage: concern/apathy.


{2jtab: Film Details}

Blue Valentine - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: on appeal for strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating; originally rated NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content.
: Derek Cianfrance
: Derek Cianfrance; Joey Curtis,
Ryan Gosling; Michelle Williams; Jen Jones; Faith Wladyka
: Drama; Romance
Memorable Movie Quote:
"What does it feel like when you’re in love?"
The Weinstein Company
Official Site:
Tagline: A love story.
Release Date:
January 7, 2011.
Blu-ray Release Date:
This title not yet on DVD/Blu-ray.

Synopsis: Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Blue Valentine - Movie Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 10, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region A (B, C untested)



  • Feature-length commentary track with Director Derek Cianfrance and Co-Editor Jim Helton

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes (480p, 19:45)
  • The Making of Blue Valentine (480p, 13:50)
  • Frankie and the Unicorn (Home Movie) (480p, 3:04)


{2jtab: Trailer}