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Movie Talk: 'Blue Valentine' (2010)

Why do I bother discussing things I really shouldn't?

Photo Courtesy of Roger Ebert

Here's yet another example of a film I more than likely have no business talking about. I should have learned my lesson with The Notebook.

Still, here we are. I had a classmate in my first year of university tell me that they really love this film and suggested I check it out for myself. Curious as I was, I did just that. And boy, did I regret it.

Blue Valentine depicts a young couple's (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) tumultuous relationship that finally crashes several years into their marriage.

It was an uncomfortable experience, to say the least. Perhaps it's because I've never been through such a relationship myself, but I don't find the emotions and circumstances relatable or sympathizable at all.

I also think it has a lot to do with the leads' acting. I just don't see real people going through real problems; I see mostly stilted and stone-cold actors who try to make their story look believable while compensating for it with awkwardly excessive eroticism.

Now, I want to make it very clear that there's nothing wrong with sex scenes in visual media. In fact, if done in good taste, they can bear a lot of meaning and enhance a theme or add to a plot. 

I get that you're supposed to feel sorry for these people, given what they're going through in the narrative. Thus, those mature scenes are meant to be emotional. But I'm sorry, I frankly don't buy into any of it. It all looks so out of place, especially when everything else is incredibly downplayed.

I understand that it's supposed to feel unordinary to a passerby, but then as we dig deeper, we realise so much more is going on. The problem is that there seems to be too much of a disconnect between what's going on before us and what we're supposed to take away from it.

Once again, I believe I'm the wrong audience for this film, let alone the wrong person to discuss it. Needless to say, my take on it probably isn't the best reference point for those potentially interested in seeing it. But I honestly was so put off from it that I really do not want to sit through it again for the sake of an actual, comprehensive review. Though the fact I remember it well enough does say something, because the fact of the matter is, the idea behind it is great.

Even if the premise isn't well executed, I can still appreciate a good story on paper. It's meant to show how, as one partner matures and gets their life together for the sake of their career and family, they realise how wrong and burdening their relationship is for them due to their partner being unwilling to change their own ways as well. Thus, many teenage relationships, especially when taking into account factors like compatibility and the couple's particular circumstances, fall apart.

It makes me think that, had the acting been better and had the focus been more on the relationship dynamic as a whole, this film would have actually been pretty good. As it is, unfortunately, it's simply unpleasant and dull with bits of turbulence here and there.

It's a tough call as to whether I'd recommend the film to anyone, because it really does boil down to preference. If this type of storytelling appeals to you and if you like the actors themselves, then you should be able to enjoy it. If you're like me and would rather read a story like this that doesn't just throw erotica in there for the sake of it, you won't be hard-pressed to find one out there that can put the emotions and themes in the forefront without the gratuitous sex fest.

I will say, though, that I don't know anyone else who's ever seen or even heard of this film, seeing as how nobody talks about it at all. So maybe there is some merit to what I'm saying. Then again, it really wasn't marketed well—and as far as I'm concerned, it was for the better. 

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Movie Talk: 'Blue Valentine' (2010)
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