…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are perfectly matched in the moody ode to modern-day romance and marriage, the gritty Blue Valentine. Director Derek Cianfrance craftily directs what might be the most shockingly honest evolution of a relationship to come along in quite some time. What makes it most memorable is that it is told in flashback – but not in a sloppy way that diminishes its lasting power. It is a notable film certainly worth its high esteem among the year’s best.
Williams and Gosling star as lovers and eventual married couple Cindy and Dean, whose romance we track over the course of the film by cutting scenes between past and present. Their relationship has its predictable ups and downs – most of the severe downs occurring later on, while they are married and parents to a precociously charming 6 year old girl. Not every love story has a happy ending, that’s for sure, but in the meantime, Blue Valentine causes us to stop and savor those moments that are truly sweet and remind us of why these two souls were meant to come together in the first place. One such moment occurs outside a clothing store entryway at night-time, when Cindy and Dean are first getting to know one another. Dean strums out a quirky tune on a ukelele while Cindy does a little dance in the doorway. It’s such a poignant and tender moment we wish we could hold onto, for we are all too aware that as time progresses and they grow in their knowledge of each other, so much will come to be taken for granted between them and sadly, lost.
While Williams certainly holds her own in the entire film and merits her Best Actress nomination, it is rather a shame her costar Gosling did not receive a due nod from Oscar as well. It almost casts a rather lopsided look on Williams’ nomination, though her performance is, without a doubt, one to be remembered. Williams brings Cindy to life with such a natural, almost calming ease of character, fused with a subtle ferocity and spunk that surfaces when angrily provoked by Dean. Indeed, we see so much more of her emotional energy break out with Dean as the catalyst – which testifies to the combined power of this brilliantly cast acting duo.
In his review of Blue Valentine for the New York Daily News, critic Joe Neumaier really summed it best. Appropriately comparing the film to the works of John Cassavetes, Neumaier states: “These moments — some of which take place in a blue-tinted motel room they’ve rented to get away from things — are heavy with the recognition that something’s over. Director Derek Cianfrance…understands the rhythms of life, of arguments and affection and reconciliation. As we see Cindy and Dean before they meet and during their courtship, we like who they might become, which makes what they are heartbreaking.”