Happy Monday! Welcome to the second ever Monday Movie Review! On Saturday I dragged my sick husband to see Blue Valentine, because I’m a mean lady. Fortunately, he sort of liked it. It kind of seems pointless to write a review about a movie that has been reviewed practically to death, but it’s not like anyone reads my blog anyway.
What I liked: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling were really great. Both of them. It’s kind of a shame that Ryan didn’t get an Oscar nom while Michelle did, because I don’t think one out-acted the other, but more on that later. Also, Faith Wladyka who played the couples’ young daughter was adorable. Ryan was really convincing as a man (Dean) who was sickeningly in love, but then he had plenty of practice playing creepy and lovesick in the Notebook. This role was significantly less saccharin with the exception of his super sweet relationship with his daughter. Michelle (Cindy) was equally convincing as a sad woman who has to be the grown-up. All. The. Time. Ok, hold on a second. I might have just changed my mind about something…
…Ok, I definitely did. I’ll come back to it.
The movie is uncomfortable to watch (a compliment of sorts) because you really start to feel like a voyeur watching the intimate moments of a couple coming together and falling apart. It was equal parts awkward and captivating. There are some raw moments that felt real just because they were so cruel. This was a couple who had no idea how to be married. They didn’t understand how to be together or what it takes to have a happy marriage.
What I didn’t: Major overuse of the extreme close-up. Like way too much. There are other ways to convey intensity. As far as the plot goes, things felt a bit too disjointed. Yeah, I get it, we’re supposed to get glimpses into the couple’s history while watching the dissolution of their marriage but I felt like feelings were lost in the shuffle. There’s so much I can’t say without giving away spoilers, but to me it was obvious that Dean is kind of creepy, a borderline stalker, and way too dramatic. I didn’t buy that Cindy ever loved Dean so much as wanted someone to care about her for once. (Speaking of that the scene with Cindy’s ex-boyfriend didn’t make a ton of sense to me…ok, everyone go see this movie so I can discuss it in more detail!) This couple never really had a great relationship. So the thing I changed my mind about? I was going to say that in the end it seemed as though their marriage could be saved if they really tried, but now I’m not so sure. Cindy married Dean because she thought he would take care of her, but instead ended up being the parent to a husband that was mostly a child. All he really wanted was to hang out and drink beer all day, and she never bothered to find out before they got married if he was the kind of man she wanted. It turned out being nice wasn’t enough. Whirlwinds are so dangerous!
What’s been bothering me: As I mentioned earlier Michelle has an Oscar nomination, and Ryan does not. This irks me not because Michelle didn’t do a good job, but because Ryan isn’t getting credit for being in a vulnerable role. As you may know the movie narrowly escaped an NC-17 rating because of an oral sex scene, which wasn’t outlandish in the scheme of the movie nor was it all that graphic. There’s been a lot of buzz in the feminist blogosphere about women and pleasure so I’ll skip that part. What I do think is important is that I Michelle was seemingly nominated for an Oscar not because of how she did, but rather what she did. She really let herself be vulnerable in this movie. But so did Ryan. It just seems as though she’s being rewarded for being brave instead of being skilled. To be clear, I’m not sure I would give the Oscar to either, but I do think they were equally great and there’s a bit of gender bias going on.
Overall I would recommend this movie. I wish I could get more in-depth with my discussion of the flaws, but I really don’t want to give everything away. I will say I thought I would come out of the theater completely depressed, but it turns out if you have a good marriage there’s something comforting about watching a bad one. It makes you feel like everything will always be ok. I feel a little guilty saying that.
I hope you had the BEST weekend! Check out the blog tomorrow…I have some things to tell you!