“What do you think about love at first sight?” Whenever this line is uttered through a film, a cringe/shudder is often seen upon at least one person’s face when in a cinema. Most likely, it’s followed by a cringe-worthy showing where you know that there is going to be a happily ever after, the same ending in the majority of romance films. Not ‘Blue Valentine.’ Blue Valentine has a dramatic ending which shows what love is actually like, not Disney’s version. We get to see the hardship of Dean (played by Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (played by Michelle Williams) relationship from when they were young, up till the present. The flashbacks show the true state of how they got together and how their feelings have seemed to change for the worst through no fault of their own.
“How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?” Seeing a man cry is the ultimate test in a relationship. The audience is for once, made to feel for Dean as he has the bad end in the relationship. Short of being cheated on, he has to suffer through Cindy’s “bi-polar” tendencies, her dysfunctional family life with her parents from when she was younger and a child who he adores. Even though there isn’t someone talking every minute, the sounds of nature are always apparent. Whether it is the leaves rustling, the wind, or the heavy sounds of water pelting down in the shower; it adds a sense of realism to the entire film. We are forever wondering why Dean puts up with Cindy especially as it seems like she doesn’t appreciate him for what he is worth. She is always saying that he needs to get an actual job, rather than just helping to fix up people’s houses which he enjoys.
“Tell me how I should be. Just tell me. I’ll do it.” Throughout the whole film the audience sympathises with Dean as the love he has for Cindy is so powerful that it is too overwhelming. Cindy has never felt such a selfless feeling for such a long period of time that she somehow manages to turn it into hatred on her side. Frankie (played by Faith Wladyka) seems to have grown up in the environment where Dean is the playful, attentive dad and Cindy is the strict mother. By the end of the film, we see the break-up of what was once a blooming relationship and how the implications affect not just those two, but Frankie as well. The contrast of the fireworks which usually represents happy times seems out of place but somehow suits the scene as nothing is right with their marriage. The most shocking visual element however is the transformation of Dean from a dashing young man to an old-before-his-time man in the space of 3 years. Combined with the sharp, bright colours of the flashbacks and the dimmer, darker tones of the present, Blue Valentine is a feast for the eyes.
“Blue Valentine” tears up previous notions of how relationships are seen through the eyes of the media. “I think men are more romantic than women.” An 112 minutes of intense viewing that will leave you wondering whether you actually want to be in a relationship filled with violent longing & pain.