Film Review: Blue Valentine [dir. Derek Cianfrance; 2010]

Blue Valentine is an excellent example of a film that is let down by its own structure. Clearly, Cianfrance's intention was to portray only the opening and closing stages of a relationship and expect the viewer to fill in the gaps in the middle. This strategy works up to a point and, indeed, there are several evocative scenes which convey the birth and death of love with commendable power. But in order to become truly memorable, the story needed to provide a few more specific details about the reasons for the marital breakdown; passing comments about problems with alcohol abuse and thwarted professional ambitions serve only to make the material seem generic and rather nebulous. Nevertheless, the movie is well worth watching for the almost documentary-like style with which the camera depicts domestic life, the deft use of flashbacks (the entire story is told by cutting back and forth between past and present) and, most notably, for the heartbreaking, intelligent performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.


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