Blue Valentine

Posted 12 years ago by myetvmedia

9/10

By Galadriel Barrett-Laffan

With his film Blue Valentine, director Derek Cinefranc brings one of the bright lights of the Sundance Film Festival to TIFF.  The film documents the bookends of a relationship, juxtaposing the past, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) meeting and falling in love, and the present, as they struggle through the painful disintegration of their marriage.  In the Q&A following the screening Cinefranc revealed that the genesis of the film came from his own life.  As a child he had two nightmares – one was nuclear war and the other was that his mother and father would get divorced.  When, as an adult, his parents did separate Cinefranc sought solace in film and literature but was unable to find anything that he could relate to; anything that didn’t depict a “Romeo and Juliet version of love”.  With Blue Valentine, Cinefranc has created a work that any child of divorce, or anyone who has ever loved and lost, will find realistic and moving.

The film is shot in a style reminiscent of the French New Wave.  The director uses natural lighting and handheld camera to create a sense of realism, giving Blue Valentine an almost documentary feel.  The most obvious stylistic choices that Cinefranc makes serve to highlight the main themes of the film.  The frequent use of close-ups encourages a feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the central characters.  Because we are so visually close to them, we are compelled to concentrate on their inner worlds; their thoughts and feelings.  The director also uses shifts in focus, from shallow to deep focus and back again, to convey the emotional distance between Cindy and Dean in the dark days of their relationship.

But what makes Blue Valentine truly special is the superlative acting.  Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give the performances of their careers and offer a master-class in their craft.  They create fully realized, starkly genuine and entirely unforgettable characters that are impossible not to identify with or feel for.  Gosling, in particular, is a standout as the relentlessly charming but profoundly flawed Dean.  Some viewers may find Blue Valentine too slow for their tastes but for anyone who wants to see acting at its finest or for anyone who has felt alone because of a broken heart or a broken home, this film is an absolute must see.

Blue Valentine Trailer

Blue Valentine

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