Sundance 2010 Review: BLUE VALENTINE

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
January 7th, 2011

Editor's note: The review was originally published on January 30, 2010.

Rating: 4/5

Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

There’s two important films I’ve seen at this festival that gave this message: “Love is a motherfucker.” Or for all the sensitive types out there, “Love is tough.” And there’s two facts in life: we’re all going to die, and at some point, we’re all going to fall in love. Whether or not we stay in love, well, that’s another story.


This brings me to my second heartache of the festival, BLUE VALENTINE. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as married couple Dean and Cindy in a film that captures the few years of their marriage, cross-cutting from when they met to present time. Like (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (but much, much more adult themed), the present just isn’t as fun as the past.

The film opens with the young couple's daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka), searching for her dog, Megan, in a field. She yells for her name, but the dog never responds. She crawls through the doggy door and plops herself into her father’s (Gosling) arms. Ryan Gosling is (as always) sensational, and his chemistry with Wladyka feels so natural. From the moment he appears on screen with her, we know Frankie’s his lifeline. He loves her like crazy. When she doesn’t want oatmeal, he puts her raisins on the table and begins to suck them up. She follows his lead and it’s adorable. When her dog turns up missing and he’s sure she won’t be back, he tells her, “I think she moved to Hollywood to be a movie dog.” It’s funny, and it eases the tension of what was just discovered.

On the other hand, from the first scene Dean and Cindy share together, the audience is shown something’s just not right with the two. It’s fairly obvious when two love birds have tension shared between them, and in this case, it’s a smacked right in our face. We’re not sure of what this tension is, but we know it’s there. It’s very difficult to watch them fall apart, as the scenes of them falling in love are beautiful. My heart warmed up to the couple as Cindy sang to Dean while he played his ukulele on a street corner on their first date. This film captures the rawness of love, and the heartbreak of a fictional relationship that all of us can relate so much to.

Not a lot of people know this, but this film has been ten years in the making. Co-Writer/director Derek Cianfrance finished the first draft in 1998, only to have delay after delay stall production. These delays couldn’t be more than a blessing though, as the two leads he hired could not have been more perfect. Dean and Connie’s chemistry is far too real. When they spend the night together in attempts to repair their broken love, I found myself fidgeting in my seat, waiting and hoping their love gets repaired.

Cianfrance dives deeply into the happiness and heartache a damaged relationship can give you and has created a story that understands how real life romance actually works. It may be painful at times, but folks, that's real life for you. If you’ve ever been in love, if you’ve ever had your heart broken, see this film.

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