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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blue Valentine

This may be a sad statement, but we’ve never seen a movie that rings truer to romantic relationships today. It’s just the perfect picture of how love sours, how there are two sides to every story, and how two people who loved each other selflessly can turn into people who are toxic for each other. This movie is like a punch in the gut that feels too familiar.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were lauded for these performances, with good reason. There’s not a single moment where they aren’t believable and moving. You care for both of their characters. This is a bleak one, because not only is the movie bleak, but it’s everyone’s nightmare in life and love. It’s a scary movie to watch. But it’s really honest and well-done. The happy, sweet parts are interspersed with the sad reality that all the hope and promise these two people had is gone.

For children of divorced parents, this will be like living through that again for you. If you think that will be cathartic, go ahead and rent this one. It’s going to be sad for anyone to watch, because we all want to believe that two people can be loyal to each other forever. We all want that kind of unconditional love. But when we see couples fall apart all around us, we fall into despair, even if we don’t consciously think about it that a lot. There’s some Black Swan-level sex in the movie that almost got is slapped with an NC-17, so be careful of that, if that offends you. Also, bad language and someone gets beat up. And there’s a disturbing scene at an abortion clinic (no gore, but it’s tense and sad).

Comparisons to Revolutionary Road may arise, but Blue Valentine is sadder and better than RR, which was just a bleak film about women's rights and a couple that you thought shouldn't even be together. In Blue Valentine, they SHOULD be together. Blue Valentine is romantic and rife with sweet moments. These two work. And it's a heartwrenching experience because the movie makes you care.

The best that can be said for the experience of watching this movie is that it’s realistic. It can serve as a warning to people whose relationships aren’t over yet. Don’t take each other for granted. There are peaks and valleys in marriages. Sometimes you won’t feel that “in love” feeling, but you still have to treat each other with the highest respect. This IS what can happen, if you aren’t careful and if you think that your love-filled romantic relationship is supposed to be easy forever. It’s not going to be that easy. But you sure can stop it from being this hard.

Movie Grade: A-
Recommended?: Not really, unless you enjoy gritty stuff that bums you out.

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