Reel Life

Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance 2010

My preconception of this film may have matched yours (if you haven’t already seen the movie). Another film starring Ryan Gosling tracking a tumultuous relationship, surely it’s just a reconstruction of the already testing “The Notebook”?
The amount of hype surrounding the film upon its release somehow deterred me from watching it and I am glad that I took my time. I will not bark the words “You MUST watch this film” but I will say, find a comfortable sofa on a quiet evening and turn off your phone.
I was accompanied by a powerful divorced single mother the first time I watched Blue Valentine. As we reached the end of the film she turned her head and shouted “Finally, real life, real people” and I couldn’t agree more. This film doesn’t have a tear inducing sound track; it doesn’t end with a dénouement or even a clear understanding of the present or future. However it does end leaving each viewer staring at their own reflection, their own real lives.
In essence the film is a gritty and painfully frank dissection of a consuming relationship from beginning to end. For me, the most beautiful aspect of the film is the ambiguity between the hero and the villain within the relationship. At times crushed by the brutality of Michelle Williams and others incensed by Gosling’s overbearing power, you are forced into a storm of conflicting allegiances. This is the beauty of the film, thrown into the nonsensical chaos of a relationship you are forced into a mind game from beginning to end. This involvement in the plot, coupled with Cianfrance’s shrewd perception of relationships leaves you questioning every relationship you have ever been in.
If you don’t mind facing the harsh realisation that you have once broken somebody’s heart or that yours was broken in the same way, sit down. You will feel guilt, bitterness, jealousy and a strong sense of nostalgia. But most importantly you will feel like a REAL, receptive human being as opposed to the third wall in a theatre.


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