Donnybrook reviewed films playing the Starz Denver Film Festival this week on a 100 star system. Why? Because our opinion counts 20 times more than most peoples’. Today we reviewed the relationship horror, Blue Valentine.
Blue Valentine: 95 stars
Blue Valentine is a relationship horror story and a sweet romantic film at the same time. The film tells the story of Dean (Ryan “Baby Goose” Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle “I Need An Internet Meme” Williams) and their relationship from the genesis. The film begins with Dean and Cindy in marital doldrums. They don’t hate each other, but their interaction isn’t setting a strong example for their young daughter of how to treat people with respect. After losing the family dog and finding its corpse, the parents decide it’s time to take Frankie (Faith Wladyka) to the grandparents’ house for some adult time.
At the end of their rope, the couple decides to go to a themed motel for some getting-back-to-marriage basics. They drink, they dance, they fight and they sex-fight. Neither character is blameless in why the relationship is failing, but they each believe they are. The situation is bleak for these lovers: neither is willing to change, or even knows what they could do to change. It’s a sad situation. And while all of this marriage-isn’t-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be drama is taking place, the film splices in the beginning of their relationship. That makes the situation go from sad to heartbreaking.
Blue Valentine is an important film that examines the way life is instead of the way audiences want it to be. The ends of romantic films are great because they are so satisfying. Girl gets boy. Roll Credits. Audience is left only thinking about the great things the couple will do together. But examining the life after the love affair is older than Madame Bovary; what makes this film so special is the performances. Both actors totally commit to being enamored with each other and repelled by each other. With nothing more than a four-year-old daughter, fifteen extra pounds, and a receding hairline, we see two polar opposite emotions from these characters, and selling this is where the acting excels. Without placing or accepting blame, Gosling and Williams have to show what four years of marriage have done to them, and they nail it.
My grandmother always told me the worst day of her life was when she won 5K playing Keno, only to call home and hear her son was getting a divorce. I never understood why that was. But now, after seeing this movie, I finally understand. My aunt and uncle should’ve been divorced long before Lady Luck visited my granny. Seeing the best possibilities people have at the beginning of a relationship only to see it crushed for 1,001 reasons that could have been avoided if people were really being their best is heartbreaking.
The two main stories following this film are the pre-awards buzz and the fact that MPAA slapped an NC-17 rating on the film. Lord knows this film is worthy to be talked about in terms of “best,” and as far as the rating goes, it could be the first film ever slapped with a viewer limiting rating for being too emotionally rich. Everyone should see this film but this film will drain your emotional tank. You’ll have nothing left. If the MPAA is right in its assumption that people can’t handle a good emotional draining, well, then maybe they are as important as they think they are.
Sunday, November 7th at 4pm at the King Center at Auraria Campus
Tuesday, November 9th at 9:15pm Denver FilmCenter on Colfax