‘Blue Valentine’ showcases heartbreaking standout performances

The film, “Blue Valentine,” discusses the dichotomy common to many relationships. Two individuals, one who is “blue” and one who is a “valentine,” play in conflict.

Ryan Gosling’s character, Dean, marries Michelle Williams’s character, Cindy, after he finds out she is pregnant. It is suggested the child isn’t his, but he chooses to marry her anyway. Their life is a stage, with two characters constantly in combat, yet opposites that fulfill each others needs. Great tragedy occurs throughout, reminiscent of 2009’s equally dark “Precious.”

The “blue,” Dean, seems to doubt moving forward because of feeling as if he understands the situation, remains somewhat introverted, and staying cynical despite wanting to move forward.

The “valentine,” Cindy, is a naïvely obedient character that drives positivity and initiates, yet stays oblivious to major problems.

The incidents in the film are driven by how serious differences in relationships take one of two routes — either split apart like Dean’s parents, or suffer through dissatisfaction like Cindy’s parents.

It also executes a non-linear timeline, constantly flashing back to when Cindy is pregnant and to when their daughter Frankie, played by Faith Wladyka, is 6 and they’ve moved to Scranton, Pa.

Frankie is the anchor of their relationship and seems to be the only reason why they don’t split. Ultimately, the last straw seems to break when their dog goes missing and Frankie becomes upset.

Dean attempts to fix this situation, but finds the dog has been hit by a car. Frankie spends a few days at Cindy’s parents’ house, and Dean tries to resolve the building tension with Cindy by spending a night in the “Futureland” room at a local sex motel.

“Blue Valentine” feels clunky, messy and raw, but the many mixed signals leave the viewer with several ideas of what happen. Most suggest that the couple splits and ends, but I believe that because of Frankie, who is a key reason why they married, they will ultimately resolve their differences and try to be the best parents possible.

Through several interesting perspectives, the film describes how relationships often grow cold and how the flaws will creep in and eat at the existence of our lives.

It makes any young heart worry about getting old. Choosing between the utter decay of something beautiful or living in something unpleasant is not easy.

“You always hurt the ones you love, the ones you shouldn’t hurt at all,” Gosling sings in a song that he wrote in the movie.

Shifting back and forth between sweet and tragic themes, the film is technically brilliant and balanced. Scored by Brooklyn-based folk rock band Grizzly Bear, it feels as if you’re watching a romantic catastrophe play upon a celluloid stage of New York.

According to an interview with Salon.com, Gosling and Williams gained 15 pounds each for the parent scenes of the film, making them both age from their 20s to their 30s. It feels as if they gained not only weight but also burdens of life as they aged. The stressors of Cindy’s self destruction and Dean’s ineptness bring great wear to any viewer.

“Blue Valentine” is easily the best performance of Gosling’s career, who genuinely fulfills the role of father as Dean. Through a deep-seeded series of misunderstandings, the love of Dean and Cindy erodes.

It’s one of the most discouraging movies as well as one of the truest I’ve seen in a long time. However, it’s probably not the movie of choice for Valentines Day evening, especially if you’re going through difficulties in your relationship.

“Blue Valentine” originally received an NC-17 rating by the MPAA because of a scene depicting cunnilingus. It was downgraded after an appeal to an R rating.

“Blue Valentine” is in limited release playing at the CineArts theater at Santana Row, Camera 7 in Campbell, Aquarius in Palo Alto and AMC in Saratoga.

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