The trailer told me this wasn’t my kind of movie. But, since it was free, it had Academy Award buzz, and it had a “controversial” sex scene, I went to see Blue Valentine. And now I hope to prevent you from making the same mistake.
The award buzz was centered on the acting of the two leads, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (UPDATE–only Michelle was nominated). And they certainly do a good job. They were extremely believable at playing people with both good and bad qualities. No cliches here–they’re actual characters. Unfortunately I didn’t really care about them.
See, the movie is about a relationship that starts off promising and just doesn’t work out. 5 years later, the magic is gone. My biggest problem is that the movie takes place when things aren’t working and flashes back to when they just met and things were great. There’s barely anything in between. We don’t see the marriage slowly dissolve. We don’t see how they slide from happiness to indifference. It just flashes back and forth between the two extremes. I found that very frustrating.
While the early scenes had some charm, as the two characters flirt back and forth, the modern day scenes are depressing, as they were meant to be…but more than that, they were boring. Nothing happens of note. They argue, one of them apologizes, they half-heartedly make up, and that’s it. This situation happens several times, and it’s never interesting. I was actively trying to see my watch in the theater, hoping it was almost over.
Oh, and the “controversial” sex scene? Trumped up hype, that’s all. Yes, there is a sex scene–2 actually. But neither are very erotic, and if I didn’t know that one of them initially got this movie an NC-17, I would never have guessed it. It’s certainly not explicit.
It’s kind of a typical “indie” movie. Authentic characters, lots of talking, not much plot. It’s not pretentious and doesn’t talk over people’s heads. It’s just about boring people being depressed because they don’t love each other any more.