Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling
Reviewed by: Sean Daly, Jennifer Daly
What were your expectations before seeing this film?
He said- I expected that Michelle Williams would be excellent considering she was nominated for Best Actress for her role. I also thought it would be more erotic based on the cover.
She Said-To be honest, I had no expectations because I hadn’t heard of this movie until my He Said/She Said counterpart suggested we watch it. However, when he stated that Michelle Williams was in it, I suspected the movie would be decent.
Which actor/actress stole the show?
He said- As is generally the case in any film she graces, the acting of Michelle Williams was the highlight. She physically and mentally embodies her somewhat tragic character Cindy to perfection. Also, there were two elderly actors (Jen Jones as Cindy’s wise grandmother and Melvin Jurdem a man overwhelmed with moving from his house to a nursing home) who absolutely shined.
She Said-No question here: Michelle Williams. She is such a talent.
Which Actor/Actress was poorly cast?
He Said-Nobody stood out as being wrong for their role, though the collaboration between Ryan Gosling and the director Derek Cianfrance had one major issue in that the Dean character didn’t age realistically. It was glaring for me and took away from the movie. Obviously, I don’t know why this happened but it felt as though Gosling wanted to “play gritty” and it was a misfire that Cianfrance didn’t reign him in.
She Said- I would say Ryan Gosling. He seemed to overact, trying too hard both in his aging of what looked like 20 years when, in the story, only about 7 years had passed. In addition, his “too white trashy” portrayal of the present-day Dean was annoying. I did appreciate his interactions with Frankie, his daughter. I felt a genuine love between the two.
How was the cinematography?
He Said-The cinematography was basic but spot on. The realistically messy house anyone with kids and two working parents could recognize told a story in and of itself. The locations shot weren’t glamorous or visually arresting but why would they be? That’s not in any way what the film was about.
She Said- It worked. You could definitely distinguish within seconds if we were being brought into the past. Both the indoor and outdoor shoots conveyed a depressed, unhappy scenario. It definitely added to the feel of this movie.
Was the soundtrack a highlight or a low light of the film?
He Said- The soundtrack was definitely a highlight. Many of the songs sounded experimental to the point I found myself wondering who performed them. Most importantly, the music set the right tone for what was taking place on screen.
She Said- I would say neither—I liked the music and thought the use of Dean and Cindy’s “Song” was clever, but the soundtrack neither added nor took away from the film.
How did you feel the dialogue worked in the film?
He Said-Cindy and Dean were constantly—and effectively—tearing one another down using words, which is a textbook example of good dialogue. The script nailed the barely concealed anger within most long term relationships very well. There’s a few moments in the story that are way too convenient to where the plot needs to go but that’s not an issue of dialogue.
She Said- This was a film where dialogue was of the utmost importance. The interactions and conversation between Cindy and Dean were key to conveying the major faults in their relationship. Both Williams and Gosling did well with the script.
Would you define the film as a chick flick or a dude flick or a mix of both?
He Said-It was neither. A chick flick would have kept Dean attractive and charming throughout and a guy flick would have him, not Cindy, looking to bail.
She Said- I would not define it as either. However, if I had to go one way or the other, I would say chick flick. I feel like a woman would be more moved and captured by this movie. And I must admit that I did cry at the end…
How was the pacing of the film?
He Said- The interspersing of present with past didn’t hurt the flow, which is a plus and sign of skill on Cianfrance’s part . On the other hand, the movie was a bit slow in sections, most likely because there wasn’t much intrigue as to how Cindy really felt about Dean. Building up their past relationship a bit more may have helped with that so at least her complete apathy towards him would feel heavier to the viewer. At times, I found myself thinking, “just get to it already!”
She Said- The pacing was fine. The use of flashbacks was effective in keeping the movie interesting. I feel like if this movie had a chronological order to it, it would have moved too slowly for my taste.
He Said- Blue Valentine is the classic example of a good movie that because of certain outstanding aspects gets elevated to very good. It could have even been great but was held back by a few issues. Problem one was the unevenness of Gosling’s character being presented as almost two different people. His looking about twenty years younger in flashback scenes when the film only spanned back about six or seven years proved distracting, as did Dean going from having considerable charm to being almost creepy. I guess the script addresses this when Dean admits he never wanted to be married or have kids (the stress of which prematurely aged him perhaps?) and develops a drinking problem (killing brain cells?) but it wasn’t enough to sway me. The movie was also guilty of being overly plot-driven at times, especially when Cindy’s character just happens to randomly run into a crucial past character en route to her truth or consequences getaway with Dean. Some of the symbolism with the family pet was a bit overwrought, too. I also would love to have seen a few more moments between Cindy and her grandmother, as their dynamic was the most interesting one in the film. But three things lifted this movie despite the flaws. They were Cianfrance’s courage in presenting such a bleak portrait of a marriage, Williams’ brave performance, and the final scene, which is about as gut-wrenching and raw as any you’ll ever see—and literally a buzzer beater that added a half-guy to my final rating.
She Said- Overall, Blue Valentine was a good movie that I feel couples who have been together for many years can relate to on some level. I felt the use of flashbacks kept the plot interesting. I feel there was enough chemistry between Cindy and Dean for them to fall for one another despite their short courtship. I would say that Williams may have been too good in portraying her disgust and hopelessness with her husband and their relationship. The only scene with any kind of hope for these two was a conversation on an impromptu overnight at a “romantic” differently-themed room hotel. Cindy expressed how she saw great potential in Dean. Dean lashes back, indicating that his being a good provider and father should be enough. I suppose if the point of this movie was that their marriage is doomed, this was great. However, I would have liked to have felt more uncertainty in the ultimate end to this story. The ending to this is so predictable, and I don’t like predictability in a movie.
He gives it 2 and a half guys
She gives it 1 and a half gals