Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hot for Blue Valentine

I've been anticipating the release of BLUE VALENTINE since January 2010 - literally. I remember looking through the Sundance line-up, reading about each of the films and coming across little film starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling - BLUE VALENTINE. It hadn't received hardly any press but I was intrigued. I really respect both of them as actors and think they have a complete handle on their craft. Dan, the programmer from Atlanta Film Festival at the time, was heading to Sundance and I asked him to see it but he didn't get the opportunity.

A synopsis of the film (from Sundance):
Blue Valentine is an intimate, shattering portrait of a disintegrating marriage.

On the far side of a once-passionate romance, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) are married with a young daughter. Hoping to save their marriage, they steal away to a theme hotel. We then encounter them years earlier, when they met and fell in love—full of life and hope.

Moving fluidly between these two time periods,
Blue Valentine unfolds like a cinematic duet whose refrain asks, where did their love go? Framing the film as a mystery whose answer lies scattered in time (and in character), filmmaker Derek Cianfrance constructs an elegant set of dualities: past and present, youth and adulthood, vitality and entropy. The rigor of his process is visible throughout the film. Eliminating artificial devices, he has only the truth of the characters to work with. Because Gosling and Williams bring amazing intensity and emotional honesty to their roles, the experience of connecting to these two souls becomes truly moving.

I definitely don't expect the film to be a pick-me-up. But, because I've been anticipating the release of it for so long, Gabe (my business partner) thinks the film might not live up to my expectations - anticipation is better than realization, per se. I've thought about this many times and have wondered the same thing myself. But, since I'm not expecting it to be a particularly happy film, I'm thinking that it might meet expectations.

Gabe and I had a discussion about the film's topic - relationships - and I actually like films that tend to portray more of what I consider "normal" (married) couple behavior. I think it's perfectly natural to fight, hate, love, fuck, make love, withhold/deny sex, create hope from nothing and so forth in a relationship. All of these are human elements to me - as long as they are controlled by passion. If those things are done for other reasons, like maybe to control the other person or the direction in which one thinks the relationship should be going, then that's a completely different ball game. Films that don't show the human elements are just Hollywood fluff in my opinion. I think it's rare to find a couple still in love after 35, 45, 50 years of marriage. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, nor am I saying that the couples don't care for each other - but I think the normal progression of things create tolerance, which leads to routine, which leads to habit - which most very old couples are in - they are in habit with each other, caring for and living with their life partners. (A lot of younger relationships are also in habit with each other, without going through the other steps - or speeding through them - but that's usually a different situation).

I love movies that illustrate these human elements. They don't always have to show the bad things - but not showing the tough times devalues the really good times, in my opinion. Gabe said he thinks a relationship's strength can be based on how well one, or both, people are at resolving conflict. I think he's probably right. But, a lot of times, at some point, the basis of conflict can no longer be resolved and that's when the relationship starts to break down - be it over sex, money, time, attention, expectations, whatever. Sometimes there comes a point where conflict cannot be resolved - and that's when marriages/relationships end. That's always such a difficult and harrowing time. A great example of this was the movie REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (one of my top 10 movies of the last 10 years). My take on REVOLUTIONARY ROAD can be found here.

So, I'm still very much anticipating BLUE VALENTINE's opening in Atlanta on Friday. I do think I'm open-minded enough to be objective about the movie and admit if I didn't like it, or it didn't meet my expectations. I don't exactly know the purpose of this blog, but just suffice it to say that I'm a fan of the human condition - be it in pain or pleasure, for how can you experience one without the other. So, that said, bring it on Weinstein Co.

So, until Friday............

For now, I leave you with the trailer for BLUE VALENTINE

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