Anyone who has ever fallen in and out of love can probably relate to Blue Valentine. The longer the movie went on, the more invested in these characters I became and the more upset I was that Ryan Gosling was not nominated for an Academy Award. Ryan Gosling plays Dean. He is a smoking, boozing, sonofagun who falls fast when he sees the sweet, angelic face of Cindy (Michelle Williams) staring at him from a cracked door. Cindy is taking care of her grandmother. Her gramma makes her laugh and doesn’t yell. Everyone else in her family yells. Dean is working as a mover, moving an elderly man into the same home that Cindy’s gramma lives in. Their eyes meet. Kismet. Cindy turns Dean away during his first attempts. She already has a boyfriend. But there is something about Dean, as there always is in these stories. But this is all in the past.
In present day, Cindy and Dean are married with a daughter, Frankie. As I am watching I am experiencing the emotions that someone might when going through the end phase of a relationship. Things are rocky. There is lots of bickering. And one person appears to be finished with the relationship while the other is holding on to it. Dean has accepted Cindy, flaws and all. While she seems like she has it together, her life has not been all milk and honey.
Dean decides that what the two of them need is a night away from it all. He has a coupon for a motel with theme rooms and books the Future Room for the two of them to reconnect in. On the way to the Future, Cindy stops at a liquor mart and runs into a man who we later find out is her ex-boyfriend. She is visibly shaken and this starts the flashbacks. Much of the movie is spent trying to figure out whether what we are watching is something that is currently happening or something that already happened. Dean’s appearance has changed, so that helps. We are taken on a trip down memory lane to see the happier times between Dean and Cindy.
The fact is, the happy times weren’t even all that happy. But Dean refused to give up. Anyone in a relationship that is lacking in intimacy or even love knows what it feels like to have advances turned down. It is hurtful and often starts a fight. In the case of Cindy and Dean, the lack of romance on Cindy’s part causes Dean to question what they’ve built together. How can two people start out so strong and come to a point at which they can barely look at one another?
This movie is not easy to watch. It has a violent delivery and made me anxious. It deals with subject matter that may make you uneasy. Aside from all of the depressing and hard to watch stuff, the performances are outstanding. Michelle Williams got her Oscar nod and Ryan Gosling did not. And that, my friends, is a travesty.