The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Blue Valentine | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Blue Valentine

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, John Doman
The death of a couples relationship is contrasted with the early days of their romance.
Going into this movie i had one worry. To convey the disintegration of a relationship is easy, but would the filmmakers be able to convincingly portray the blossoming of this doomed romance? Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes. The movie's strongest scenes are mostly those recounting Gosling's awkward but charming seduction of Williams. You really get behind this couple, and Gosling must take most of the credit for this. I've heard a lot of praise for this actor over the past years but can honestly, and now shamefully, say this is the first of his movies I've sat through. I haven't been this impressed in a lead actor since Christian Bale relaunched himself with "American Psycho". Here he's forced to play two characters, the naive but cocky youth who charms Williams, and the content yet still naive adult who loses her. So strong is he in both roles it would be justified if he won oscars for actor and supporting actor.
Likewise with Williams who makes the leap from teen idol to the Gena Rowlands of her generation. You can't help but feel she's from an entirely different school of acting to her co-star, but holds her own completely alongside him. When Dustin Hoffman shot "Marathon Man" with Laurence Olivier, the young American was completely in awe of the aging Brit. Pushing himself physically to the point of exhaustion, Hoffman ended up being hospitalised in pursuit of thespian perfection. This prompted Olivier to recommend "just acting" to his young co-star. You can sense this juxtaposition between the leads here, Gosling seems completely immersed in his role, Williams seems to make it seem as simple as alternating between smiling and frowning. Whatever works I say and here both work brilliantly.
While the central idea is nothing new, Cianfrance for the most part avoids the cliches of this type of drama. The movie doesn't take sides but male viewers will probably side with Gosling, females with Williams. There are no villains here, just two victims of time and expectation.