Blue Valentine (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Derek Cianfrance|
|Music by||Grizzly Bear|
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company|
|Box office||$16.6 million|
Blue Valentine is a 2010 American romantic tragedy film written and directed by Derek Cianfrance. Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne, and Joey Curtis wrote the film, and Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling played the lead roles as well as serving as co-executive producers for the film. The band Grizzly Bear scored the film. The film depicts a married couple, Dean Pereira (Gosling) and Cynthia "Cindy" Heller (Williams), shifting back and forth in time between their courtship and the dissolution of their marriage several years later.
Dean is a young hopeless romantic high school dropout, working for a moving company in Brooklyn. Cindy is an aspiring doctor studying pre-med, living with her constantly fighting parents and caring for her grandmother in Pennsylvania. She is also dating a fellow student named Bobby. During intercourse one day, Bobby doesn't use protection causing an angered Cindy to break up with him. Dean and Cindy meet at her grandmother's nursing home while Dean is delivering a new resident's furniture. He gives her his number but she never calls. They coincidentally meet again on a bus and begin dating shortly afterwards. The two fall deeply in love and soon after, a jealous Bobby finds out and beats Dean up.
Cindy discovers she is pregnant and tells Dean the baby is unlikely to be his. At an abortion clinic, Cindy decides at the last moment to cancel the procedure. Dean comforts Cindy and tells her he doesn't mind if the child is not his and wants to begin a family with her. Cindy and Dean get married.
Five years later, the couple lives in rural Pennsylvania with their daughter, Frankie and family dog, Megan. Dean paints houses for a living and struggles with alcohol while Cindy is a nurse at a clinic. Megan goes missing one day and is found dead on the road side, further straining the couple's marriage. After watching old family videos, Dean insists on taking Cindy out for a romantic getaway at a motel so they can have some time off from their preoccupied lives, much to Cindy's reluctance. At a liquor store, Cindy runs into Bobby and begins a conversation. Cindy and Dean get into an argument in the car when she mentions seeing Bobby again.
At the motel, Dean constantly tries to seduce Cindy but she rebuffs him. They start fighting and she locks him outside the motel room. Cindy is called away by the clinic early in the morning. She takes the car and leaves a note for Dean. At the clinic, Cindy's boss, Dr. Feinberg, talks to her about a position he had offered her. He suggests that she move closer to work, but instead of moving her whole family, that she get an apartment and go back home for the weekends. He adds that he could keep her company during the week if she gets lonely. Visibly upset, Cindy says she previously thought he offered her the position because of her job skills.
Angered that Cindy left the motel without waking him, Dean shows up drunk at the clinic. He has a heated argument with Cindy which leads to a violent altercation with Dr. Feinberg. Dr. Feinberg kicks both Dean and Cindy out, firing the latter. Cindy demands a divorce while leaving the clinic. At her parent's house, Dean tries to persuade Cindy to give the marriage another chance, asking if she wants their daughter to grow up in a broken home. Cindy says she does not want Frankie to grow up with parents who are so hateful to each other.
After Dean reminds Cindy of their wedding vows, they hug and apologize. Cindy then pulls away asking for some space. Dean is seen walking away from the house while Frankie runs after him. Dean tells Frankie to go back to her mom despite Frankie begging him to stay. Dean challenges her to a race in an attempt to send her back to Cindy. He continues walking away while Cindy picks up an upset Frankie, who cries "I love him." The film ends with photos of Dean and Cindy in the early days of their romance illuminated by fireworks.
- Ryan Gosling as Dean Pereira
- Michelle Williams as Cindy Heller
- Faith Wladyka as Frances "Frankie"
- John Doman as Jerry
- Mike Vogel as Bobby
- Marshall Johnson as Marshall
- Jen Jones as Gramma
- Ben Shenkman as Dr. Feinberg
- Maryann Plunkett as Glenda
Williams was 21 when she received the script in 2002 and Gosling committed to the production four years later, but filming did not begin until 2009, when Williams was 28 (as was Gosling), owing to Cianfrance's inability to find financing. The director was also unable to film the "young" and "older" scenes several years apart as he had hoped, again due to lack of money. The film was to be shot in California but production was moved to Brooklyn, New York and Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Williams wanted to stay close to her Brooklyn home to take care of her daughter, Matilda (after the passing of Heath Ledger the year prior), so the director chose Honesdale due to its proximity to Brooklyn.
— Derek Cianfrance
Gosling and Williams improvised dialogue; the scene in which their characters wander through New York together was unscripted, for example; the actors—who had both appeared in The United States of Leland (2003) but had not shared scenes—got to know each other during its filming. Before filming the marriage dissolution between the main characters, Gosling and Williams prepared by renting a home, bringing their own clothing and belongings, buying groceries with a budget based on their characters' incomes, filming home movies and taking a family portrait at a local Sears with the actress who played their daughter, and staging out arguments. Cianfrance visited the actors and assisted them in building tension while remaining in character: "One night he told Gosling to go into Williams' bedroom and try to make love to her. Gosling, soundly rejected, ended up sleeping on the couch."
The film was shot in Super 16mm and Red One. The former was used for the pre-marriage scenes and the latter was used for the post-marriage scenes. Andrij Parekh used only one professional light in the filming of the outside scenes, otherwise using only practical lights for the inside scenes.
While on The Hollywood Reporter Director's Roundtable, Cianfrance said that he had given up his entire director's fee to help fund the film: "I mean, it came down to we were exactly my fee short. They paid me and I just paid it back. So I still have to pay taxes on it, you know. So I actually had to pay to make the movie."
Gosling wrote and performed some songs by himself. The band Grizzly Bear composed the score of the film. A soundtrack for the film was released by Lakeshore Records.
One of the film's feature songs, "You and Me", which is presented as the couple's personal song, was originally recorded as a demo by a group called Penny & The Quarters for the obscure Prix Label of Columbus, Ohio in the early 1970s. It was re-released on a compilation album by the Numero Group in 2007 without the members of the group being identified.
The film premiered in competition at the 26th Sundance Film Festival. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 15, 2010. In Australia, the film was released on December 26, 2010 through Palace Films. In the United States, it was distributed by The Weinstein Company as a limited release on December 29, 2010.
On October 8, 2010, Blue Valentine was given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA for American cinemas. This was due to a scene depicting cunnilingus. Gosling accused the MPAA of sexism and misogyny. "There's plenty of oral sex scenes in a lot of movies, where it's a man receiving it from a woman – and they're R-rated. Ours is reversed and somehow it's perceived as pornographic", he stated. The Weinstein Company appealed the decision and aimed for an R without any trims to the film, believing the prior decision would significantly harm the film's potential box office take in the United States. The appeal was successful on December 8, 2010, and the film received an R rating.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 10, 2011. Special features include an audio commentary with Director Derek Cianfrance, a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, and home movies. The film has grossed $5,336,207 through US video sales.
Blue Valentine received critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 87% of 203 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus states: "This emotionally gripping examination of a marriage on the rocks isn't always easy to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give performances of unusual depth and power." On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 81 out of 100 based on 42 reviews, meaning "universal acclaim". Roger Ebert gave it 3.5/4 stars, writing: "Dean seems stuck. He seems to stay fixed at the initial stage. Can you see the difference between (1) "He loves me as much as he always did", and (2) "He loves me exactly like he always did"? I've read reviews saying Cianfrance isn't clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?"
Top ten lists
Blue Valentine was listed on many critics' top ten lists.
- 1st – Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club
- 1st – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
- 1st – Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
- 2nd – Drew McWeeny, HitFix
- 3rd – Claudia Puig, USA Today
- 4th – Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
- 4th – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
- 4th – Steve Persall, St. Petersburg Times
- 6th – Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly
- 6th – Mike Scott, The Times-Picayune
- 7th – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
- 7th – Clint O'Conner, Cleveland Plain Dealer
- 8th – Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – Dana Stevens, Slate
- Top 10 (ranked alphabetically) – Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Academy Awards||February 27, 2011||Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|Casting Society of America||2011||Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Low Budget Feature – Drama/Comedy||Cindy Tolan, Richard Hicks (LA Casting Consultant), David Rubin (LA Casting Consultant)||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||December 20, 2010||Best Actor||Ryan Gosling||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|Most Promising Filmmaker||Derek Cianfrance||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||January 16, 2011||Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama||Ryan Gosling||Nominated|
|Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|Gotham Independent Film Awards||November 29, 2010||Best Film||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Awards||February 26, 2011||Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|London Film Critics Circle Awards||February 10, 2011||Best Actor||Ryan Gosling||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||January 3, 2011||Best Actor||Ryan Gosling||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||December 14, 2010||Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards||December 13, 2010||Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Won|
|Satellite Awards||December 19, 2010||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Ryan Gosling||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Michelle Williams||Nominated|
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So near the end of the film you realize that both of their fears contradict the other one's fear, and one of them is going to lose, and that's where it becomes a tragedy. Someone is repeating the cycle.
- Willmore, Alison. "Derek Cianfrance, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams Pen a "Blue Valentine"". www.ifc.com. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
Well, there is a model for love tragedy, and that’s “Romeo and Juliet” — the story of these two young lovers who at the peak of their romance die and their love is preserved for all time. As I was going through my life, I never met anyone who had that good romantic fortune to die at the peak of their life. They had to suffer through, and time became this betrayer. So the story we’ve been told is “Romeo and Juliet,” but the story behind that story, you know?
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