I have been looking forward to seeing Blue Valentine for MONTHS. MONTHS, I SAY! When I heard about the premise: dual story lines - the past and the present - of a couple's relationship (I find these kinds of things very interesting) and then I heard it had Ryan Gosling (who I absolutely adore) and Michelle Williams in it, I was completely sold. So I watched clips, read reviews from film festival screenings, and waited.
Then there was the whole NC-17 rating debacle, delaying its release even further, and then it was FINALLY screened in theaters on December 29th, but on a very limited release. So, I waited, checking the movie theaters here in Denver daily, until I saw that it would be playing at the Mayan Theatre (thank you, Mayan!) this past Friday, January 14th. I immediately made plans to see it after I got off work that day.
So after all of this waiting, I began to find myself getting worried as I drove downtown to the movie theater. Was this going to be one of my cases where I hyped something up so much, I was only bound to leave disappointed? I was upset, because I had to stay 20 minutes later at my work, and I ended up showing up one trailer before the movie started and the place was packed. I ended up with a crappy seat in the very back, but it was stadium seating, so I was pretty high up and I had a clear shot at the screen without (what seems to be almost always) someone's big head in the way.
So are you ready for me to actually tell you about this movie? Here we go: this movie does something that is very hard for me to explain. The director's name is Derek Cianfrance who I have never heard of, and as far as I know, has never directed any other major motion picture. But I thought he was amazing. I think my two favorite shots are the very first scene and the very last scene and, well, there was also a certain scene where the camera is set inside, looking through a window, watching the couple embrace outside on the sidewalk, that was so beautiful it made me want to cry. Cianfrance is able to capture a feeling so well and so clearly and so simply and so elegantly. I have trouble articulating my thoughts here, but with the simple clips that open the scenes, I am able to know exactly where I am and what I should feel. Does that make sense?
And the acting is amazing. I didn't know if I could love Ryan Gosling any more than I did, but guess what, I can. He was so authentic and real and heart-breaking. And Michelle Williams was fantastic, too. The film, in part, revolves around day-to-day living that is involved in a relationship, and doesn't have the typical Hollywood romance. This is okay with me, but there was one thing that kind of bothered me. I felt like, in order for this film to really resonate with an audience, it needed to be universal, and I felt there was a certain aspect to the story that created a distance between the audience and the characters. (I don't want to give anything away here, because I walked into the movie not knowing this so I don't want to spoil it for anyone else.) When this turn in the plot happened, it bothered me a lot, and it made me start viewing the story differently. I feel like the direction that it had been going within the film would've had a greater emotional intensity.
It was well-acted, visually well-executed, but I still left feeling like something was lacking. I haven't really put my finger on it. I guess I would attribute it to what I mentioned above, the distance I felt at a certain point within the film, but even so, the closing scene really stuck with me. It was as though I could feel the intensity of the moment in my chest, the weightlessness of the point where there are no thoughts, only feelings. So...with that kind of connection at the end, I can't say that this film wasn't good. I've thought about it since, I've even dreamt about certain scenes. But I thought it could have been better. Perhaps I am being too nit-picky.