Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Monday, February 11, 2013

Check Out This Review and Love Note: Blue Valentine and Ryan Gosling

English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto Inte...
English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Movie Review – Blue Valentine
            Ryan Gosling’s performance in Blue Valentine made me want to find the love of my life and make it work.  It wasn’t just his impossibly beautiful face or his impeccable romantic capacity, but his desire to fully submerse himself in love's hardships and paddle through.  It’s been a rather long time since I’ve fallen in love with a character in a movie (think Leonardo DiCaprio, circa 1998) so I’ll tell you the reasons behind my heartfelt adoration. 
            Dean Pereira (Gosling) is the ideal man.  He is handsome, caring, manly, creative, hardworking, funny … the list could go on.  The perfect balance between a sensitive sap and a insensitive jerk, Dean turned out to be quite the idealistic man, despite his broken-home upbringing.  Through low ambition, he spends his days working for a moving company earning a small but honest living. 
            And then he sees her.  And he immediately knows he loves her.  And this is exactly what women want.  We want a man to see us, and in that split-second, decide that we are who he has been looking for his entire life.  And that's how she felt, special. 
            But then she fell out of love with him.  His wife Cindy, played by Michelle Williams, could no longer deal with the realities of their relationship.  Cindy lost herself, swallowed up in Dean’s love for early morning beers and wasted potential. 
            But it wasn't his fault.  Dean is a grown-up Holden Caulfield.  Childishly hilarious, selflessly giving, ever-youthful physically and emotionally, he won’t ever die.  Dying is for suckers.
            And that's what Cindy couldn't handle anymore.  In the flashbacks during the film, we see Dean captivate Cindy in his vigor for her, being as goofy and charming as possible to win over her heart.  But in the realtime scenes of the film, it was obvious that his sparkle had wore off throughout their short marriage.  But what exactly did he do wrong? 
            He stood by Cindy's side through an unthinkably tough situation;  the acceptance of a child that wasn't his own, and taking her hand in marriage when he did not have to. 
            He buried a dog that he loved because his wife neglected to keep it safe.  He was beaten to the ground over petty jealousy, and still brought her flowers.  He was concerned that his daughter's oatmeal wasn't cooked, and taught her how to eat the raisins.  He searched for his wedding ring in exceedingly tall grass, when most other men would walk away.
            Dean’s upper arm tattoo is just another emblem of his love for his youth and family – like the Giving Tree, Dean will give all that he has to Cindy and their 3-year-old daughter Frankie (Faith Waladyka). 
            Still, for Cindy it wasn't enough.  She felt resentment that Frankie loved Dean more; resentment that he wouldn't get a better job; resentment that their romantic getaway took place in a trashy rotating-bed hotel with blue illumination. 
            And I think this was director Derek Cianfrance's point (probably more so than to create a character for women to fall in love with).  Blue Valentine is ultimately a picture painted to show viewers that a husband and wife should grow not only as a couple, but as individuals through their marriage. 
            Cindy kept moving - she raised a child, worked for a career, drove the soccer van, changed her appearance, kept a household - things that matured her as a woman.  Dean on the other hand, was exactly the same, minus some hair.  It's hard to live your life everyday when you're leaving behind the person you're sharing it with.  The band grew so thin it snapped.         
            Blue Valentine ended with Cindy and Dean walking away from each other.  Cindy moving forward and Dean moving the same as he always has.  And that's fine with me.  

Review or personal essay? It works for me because it's a thoughtful analysis of the movie, giving away so many of the movie's details, including the ending. But it sets up a nice little tension, between the movie's point (which the writer understands) and her visceral, emotional  tilt toward one of the main characters.  Maybe she could have made that point: The movie is a rohrschack, and my reaction tells so much about me.  But maybe this is stronger because she trusts the reader to get that implication. Strong writing and focus all the way through. But, kids. This is not as easy as it looks.

Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance
Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Rated R:  real-live adulthood
♡♡♡♡♡ out of ♡♡♡♡♡

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