Films: Blue Valentine

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Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine

USA, 2010, 120 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Romance
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Special Presentations
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Derek Cianfrance
Producer: Doug Dey (executive), Jack Lechner (executive), Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky
Editor: Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Screenwriter: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Cinematographer: Andrij Parekh
Principal Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, Reila Aphrodite

Director Derek Cianfrance (Brother Tied, SDFF21) recently told an interviewer that his two deepest childhood fears were that there would be a nuclear war and that his parents would get divorced. He indirectly addresses the latter in Blue Valentine, an emotionally charged drama about a couple’s futile attempts to save their rocky marriage.

The embattled, working-class pair are a boozy furniture mover named Dean (Ryan Gosling) and a discontented nurse, Cindy (Michelle Williams), who's convinced that her husband never fulfilled his potential. Married young, they now find themselves bewildered by the ups and downs of conjugal life, complicated by the presence of their young daughter. When Dean and Cindy check into a theme hotel in an attempt to patch things up, their relationship undergoes thorough examination—past and present, happy and embittered—through flashbacks and in-the-moment tableaux. We suspect from the start that things will not end well, and Cianfrance never pulls his punches as he moves the story back and forth in time.

A University of Colorado graduate who studied film with experimental cinema icons Phil Solomon and Stan Brakhage (for whom the festival’s Vision Award is named), Cianfrance took 12 years to get his second feature to the screen—but this beautifully observed piece, which has been compared to the work of the late great John Cassavetes, is worth the wait. The two stars, both Academy Award nominees, are at their very best as lovers attempting to rekindle their lost passion. These searing scenes from a marriage go straight to the heart.
—Bill Gallo

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