Blue Valentine is an Indie gem
Like many great indie films, Blue Valentine built its success on word-of-mouth buzz. While studios generally rely on hucksters in suits to push the latest cookie-cutter sequels down your throat, indies will spend very little on marketing, and allow the film to speak for itself. And while these sorts of films are sometimes divisive, and not for everyone’s taste, when they do carve out a niche audience, it tends to be loyal to the core.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are slowly building careers as “stars” of alternative cinema. They choose projects with an edge, that tells stories from the margins, and are unafraid to break taboos. This film is a love story that understands love is not always forever; it can be ugly, full of scars, and can end without sunsets & smiles. The lead characters in Blue Valentine are Dean and Cindy, a pair of damaged outcasts who find each other in their own random and unlikely way. The story is constructed around dual narratives, one at the beginning of the relationship, and one as it is falling apart. These juxtaposed stories show a contrast between hope and despair that exists within the relationship over time.
I liked Blue Valentine because of the things it is not: slick, taut, compact, and neat. It is the opposite of these things, and has a sincerity that is often lacking in many studio films. There is more truth in a few short scenes of interaction between Gosling and Williams than most films pull off in 2 hours. Kudos to director Derek Cianfrance for delivering such a refreshing take on the “relationship” movie.