Blue Valentine

All my life, movies have been very important to me. I have always enjoyed watching them, going to the theater, sitting there in the dark and waiting for the curtains to rise on a whole ‘nother world.

In this modern digital age, in this best of all possible worlds, we now have such access to film – at any time, in any place, we can watch anything we want. The entire world and history of cinema is available in forms that weren’t even imaginable only a decade ago.

But I don’t ever seem to have the time to sit down and watch anything.

The other evening, I had a lot to do. I had promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. But I was still sick, tired, and worn out… so I decided to go lay down, turn on the cable, and watch whatever came up.

What came up was Blue Valentine.

It was crackerjack.

It’s a character driven story of a young couple, played by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. It jumps in time from the very beginning of their relationship to a point in time six years later when everything is on the rocks. They are both deeply flawed, working class people, who come from disastrously dysfunctional backgrounds and you can feel the fear and effort as they fight to raise themselves out of the doom that they have forseen.

Michelle Williams won a golden globe the other night… but I always think of her as the teenager in The Station Agent. She is a revelation in this movie – when she says she wants to be a doctor you wan to believe that is a possibility. Ryan Gosling is a wiry drunk with bad tattoos and a heart of gold. The transformation of the two from the scenes that represent the early stages of their relationship to the end is amazing – they seem to age a century in six years. Her face gets puffy and his gaunt, as the hope is slowly drained from their lives.

The movie was initially rated NC-17 – and there is a lot of rawness to the film, including the sex scenes. These have to be in the movie, though, the story is told through the sex as much as through the dialog.

After I watched it I wandered the web for a bit reading what other folks thought. The funny thing was how many people took sides – with one of the couple or the other. They couldn’t understand why the couple was having so much trouble making it work and were fishing around for someone to blame. Neither character had any idea how to behave and would, at any moment, make the wrong decision. They had no way to learn… other than to plow ahead as best as they could. There is a lot left unseen in the film, a lot must have gone down in the six years between… and the film treats us to the wreckage crashing down around the couple’s heads.

Both were decent people, inside. They are just like us.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers. The two timelines of the movie scream toward each other until we are witness to the final epiphany. Will the two lovers conquer all and march into the sunset arm and arm – damaged but hopeful? Or is all hope lost?

The characters are fatally flawed, but aren’t we all?

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