BLUE VALENTINE. Starring Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams and Mike Vogel. Directed by Derek Cianfrance. 114 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong sex scenes, themes and coarse language).
Director Derek Cianfrance has said that one of the major fears of his childhood was his parents getting a divorce. This is evident in the film with passionate sequences of love and the loss of love, even of hatred. The title gives it away as does the song that the husband sings when wooing his wife but is sung again, most ruefully, over the final credits, ‘You always hurt the ones you love...’.
The screenplay has action that takes place over 24 hours in the present but, within that framework, retraces the early history of Dean and Cindy, their meeting, love, his saving her, their marriage. The counterpoint of both periods highlights the contrast, often quite harrowingly.
So, in a way, nothing new. The strength of the film is in the episodes and in the performances – though at times they seem to be improvised and somewhat repetitive and strained. However, Ryan Gosling as Dean and Michelle Williams as Cindy really enter into their roles with vigour and empathy which makes the break-up more tragic, especially for their little girl who loves them both so much. If only Dean could have read the situation and Cindy’s latter feelings better, and if only Cindy had had the patience and understanding that Dean deserved.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out December 26, 2010