I realize good movies, well done films, don’t always leave you with a feel good moment or a highlight to stick into your memory. At the finish of Blue Valentine I staggered out of the theater, deeply saddened, almost wounded. I held in my stomach to help my liver as my empty heart peirced everything with loss. BLUE VALENTINE had done its job on me, not only reminded me of the futility of even the most fresh and hopeful relationship but of marriage, its uncertainty and rising pain from even the most fertile, loving soil.
When the couple Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams meet, horns never sound, there is no flair, and they never hit it off in any spectacualr way. He plays a ukulele and she does a two step in a poorly lit store doorway and as quiant as it may seem, I didn’t thrill from it’s childish shuffle. Two desperate, confused middle class people struggling to communicate with depth that is simple beyond their emotional intelligence.
People often marry to hold back fear in another room, to see the eyes of someone else supporting them. Love is mistaken for safety or a momentary clinging to shield yourself from confusion, financial worries or merely stumbling into the next part of a badly planned life.
Yes, I realize even the best made plans fail, but at least the facade of a plan can lend fuel to your life and stave off bad endings, futile hate and wasted time. Or maybe there is nothing you can do and even the best intentions inevitably lead to misery.
Cindy is pregnant and someone has to be the father, so Dean volunteers. He seems to willingly accept the responsibility as though he is trading baseball cards.
Of course fear often creates that which it fears and when the couple marry, bringing a child, responsibilities and more financial woes. What little attraction they coiled around is crushed beneath a sharp, sticky reality. When your not too bright husband is a painter or a construction worker, there isn’t going to be a great influx of cash. When the painter has no ambition and most of your time as a woman is spend caring for him or your daughter, the romance of life goes out the window as fast as the years pass by and your vision of yourself becomes aged and broken like a rural Pakistan rusted bus except without the colors.
You’re going to want to get off at the nearest stop. Only trouble is the man who thinks he’s driving and wants to be respected for his one handed left turns, isn’t going to use the brakes and open the doors without some loud mooing, and swigging from a fifth of bourbon.
Cindy is a nurse. Dean is a house painter. They live a mundane life and the movie circles around Dean’s romantic lowbrow spark of an idea. An evening in a cheap, silver walled, round sci-fi bed, wish I was dead, hotel room. It’s a flaccid ploy to trigger Cindy’s love, a sexual rendezvous, doomed years before they built the hotel.
No amount of booze can keep Cindy from almost gagging as Dean leans in for a kiss. He’s offended, he can’t understand what has happened to their love. He’s a good guy, she married him, he’s a good provider.
Why isn’t his boozing, cheap clothes, verbal whining and near autistic emotionalism attractive to Cindy anymore? They have a girl and they need to stay together and all the cheap moral stories from the 50’s seep into the dialogue.
There is a stale clinging, a lost and wasted life staring at both of them and it’s quickly sounding the end of what little was ever not repulsive between them.
The pathetic past of mistaken love is alluded to in past streams of touches and quaint moments, but it’s touched by the bad taste of medicine that fails to work.
The one consolation is even Ryan Gosling will age, hopefully not as bad as Dean in this movie and with more style.
The movie is a clear, quiet, moaning and painfully mature look at what most marriages are drafted for. I endured and made notes, making certain if I was to ever marry, that I would first engage a doctor to examine my mental state, then use whatever money I had left to move to another state.
The film exhausted me and I have to stop the review until I can gather more strength. Remembering the movie makes my legs heavy and stomach hurt.