Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, John Doman
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Running Time: 114 mins
Blue Valentine is an American film about the life of a young couple over the years, as they go through various troubles and difficulties on their road to marriage and becoming parents.
This film is a dull, slow-paced and largely uninteresting look at modern relationships, due to an overriding atmosphere of pretentiousness that takes away from the human intrigue of the two main characters. Despite that, there is some good acting here, as well as an unorthodox structure that adds some intrigue to it all.
So, this film is told in a completely non-linear format, similar to the 1967 film, also based on the life of a young couple going through difficult times, Two For The Road. On the one hand, this structure does work in this genre, as you see a very fluid development of the characters over a longer period of time, whilst knowing their future, past and present does help you to grow closer to them at the same time.
Despite that, in the case of this film in particular, the non-linearity becomes almost overpowering, giving the story a very unorganised, meandering feel, and, coupled with incredibly slow pacing, it becomes a whole lot less interesting due to the fact that it never really feels like the story is actually going anywhere.
That’s where the pretentiousness creeps in. When you’re sitting there confused as to what’s actually going on or going to happen in this film, it all seems like a string of unrelated sequences which don’t really mean anything as one, due to a relatively poor screenplay. As a result, the more emotional scenes, which are meant to be very heavy-going, feel pointless and dull, despite their attempts to engross you in the passionate love of these two people, which makes it feel quite pretentious.
Also, the graphic nature of some of the sex scenes here doesn’t help to reduce that pretentious feel. Although there’s not really that much directly shown in this film (and it’s still confusing as to why this is an NC-17 in the USA, when it’s a 15 in Britain), the dragging nature of some of these scenes, where there’s little dialogue or noise, is just simply dull to watch, and because of the fact that you’re not so invested in these characters due to the disjointed nature of the story, there’s nothing in these scenes to really care about.
On the positive side, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams do do a very good job in their respective roles here. Although it’s quite a shouty film, the two put a lot of effort into their characters, and it does show in some respects when you want to see how passionate their love is, and although it’s tough to really feel that, it’s right there on screen thanks to their performances.
Overall, this gets a 6.6, because despite utilising a format that’s intriguing on paper and having two strong central performances, the pretentious, dragging and meandering nature of this film makes it often painfully full to watch.