Blue Valentine


Blue Valentine

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 202


Audience Score

User Ratings: 59,083
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Movie Info

A complex portrait of a contemporary American marriage, "Blue Valentine" tells the story of David and Cindy, a couple who have been together for several years but who are at an impasse in their relationship. While Cindy has blossomed into a woman with opportunities and options, David is still the same person he was when they met, and he is unable to accept either Cindy's growth or his lack of it. Innovatively structured, the narrative unfolds in two distinct time frames, juxtaposing scenes of first love and youthful sexuality with those of disenchantment and discord.


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Critic Reviews for Blue Valentine

All Critics (202) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (175) | Rotten (27)

Audience Reviews for Blue Valentine

  • Jun 12, 2014
    Brilliant drama, Blue Valentine manages to really set the tone of an atmospheric picture that is elevated by a strong cast of talented actors that simply possesses great chemistry on-screen. Directed by Derek Cianfrance, a director who is skilled at crafting, thought provoking, absorbing dramas, successfully delivers a film that is powerful, and boasts a great story that is only elevated by its cast. That's what makes this movie work well, the simple story, which is basic, and it is build upon, these two actors who really stand out due to the fact that they're superbly talented and bring out the best elements. The film is well paced, and though it is a bit slow, you are simply captivated at what the characters go through as they're very well fleshed out, and you care for both of them. Also I found the film had a melancholic atmosphere that lingered throughout, therefore it brought you deeper into the film's story. Cianfrance is a talented director, and here he displays a talent to tell a powerful, simple story that definitely manages to stand out over really big budget movies that try to captivate the viewer with big effects, poor acting and clichéd plots. However Blue Valentine is a film that breaks the cycle, and offers you something truly different. By telling a simple story, Derek Cianfrance goes a different route, and he tells a real story that follows two people that can really be anyone. His style is terrific, his sense of filmmaking is unique an unmatched, and he would later perfect his skills on the masterpiece, The Place Beyond the Pines. If you enjoy an engaging drama that tells a great story, you definitely shouldn't pass up Blue Valentine. This film stands out among other genre films simply for the fact that it has a powerful story and great performances.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 28, 2014
    Well acted but slow and depressing.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Mar 25, 2014
    "I'll have a blue - oo-oo-oo-oo-oo - Valentine without you, oo-oo-oo-oo-oo." Wow, people, this harsh little drama ought to make you blue, especially if your a guy, in which case, it won't just be your attitude that's blue. Oh, that pesky MPAA just had to water this film's nasty content in order to keep it from going NC-17, which is kind of bogus, because it's not like a whole lot of people were going to see this in the first place. Actually, quite a few people did end up going to see this thing, although that might just be because the controversy made news, ostensibly on a number of slow news days, back in 2010, because it's not like this film was seen for its being such an essential date night viewing. If people as pretty as Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams couldn't make it, then there's no hope, although we said that about Jack and Rose when we got a glimpse of what would have happened if they made it off the Titanic through "Revolutionary Road", and I still enjoy watching it. Of course, in all fairness, it is awesome, and I am that jerk who is so far into realism in full, crushingly brutal form that I actually kind of dig subject matter this depressing, so, Mr. Derek Cianfrance, if you would care to comply with Def Leppard, bring on the heartbreak, because I could use a nap. I'm kidding people, the film is decent, but it's sure not "Revolutionary Road", largely because it limps a touch too much down its own road, which is bumpy enough thanks to other problems. I don't suppose the film has any pretense of being unpredictable, as this is one of those types of films in which you see the train coming in for the wreck, but it's still distancing to find more than a few moments in which the film feels too familiar for its own good, partly because there are times in which the film tries so hard to be kind of refreshing, at least in structure. Working to sum up a long-term, yet doomed relationship in under two hours, screenwriters Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis interpret this story into a nonlinear structure that alternates between the relationship's inception and the final stretch for the couple, and such an idea is not simply nifty, but very promising, yet ends up being very questionably handled, as each segment is focused upon for way too long, until you start to forget the other segment, maybe even find the two very different attitudes of this two-branch narrative reinforced too much for the tone to shift all that organically. When the film gets caught up in focusing on the excitement of a buddy relationship, it's hard to feel its doom, just like how when the doom comes, it's sometimes a little difficult to see where the spark was, although the unevenness of the film would be more glaring if there was all that much bite to the tone to begin with, as Cianfrance, as director, takes a very meditative approach that, while tasteful, is kind of bland, if not dull, limiting a sense of momentum that all but halts once artistic meditativeness really gets carried away. There are times in which the film gets to be lyrical in its meditations, applying its dry atmosphere to nothing but thematic visuals, thus, even the storytelling style of this generally traditionally structured drama comes off as uneven, just as the narrative's timeline structure comes off as uneven, not so much in a way which reflects laziness, but in a way which reflects ambition. The film tries so hard to either freshen up or simply flesh out itself as a drama and an artistic effort, and while I respect that, especially when ambition is realized into inspiration, but what most holds back this drama of plenty of inspiration is, of all things, natural shortcomings, because as worthy as this story is, it's perhaps too grounded for its own good, being minimalist in scale and too relatable to carry all that much cinematic weight. This, of course, makes the consequential shortcomings all the harder to deny, which isn't to say that you could ever fully get past all of the conventions and unevenness, as they keep consistent throughout the film, shaking what momentum it has, until the final product falls short of rewarding. The drama could have actually transcended its natural shortcomings and beaten out underwhelmingness, and yet, it would be a whole lot harder to realize that if the film wasn't so strong in so many places, albeit not enough for the flaws to be overshadowed, but definitely enough for the film to engage, particularly stylistically. Composed by indie folk-rock group Grizzly Bear, the score in this generally quiet film is pretty unevenly used, being primarily used during those lyrical meditations on sheer filler, but when it is used, it's well worth waiting for, boasting that distinctly indie tenderness to its instrumentation and sparse arrangement that, in the context of storytelling, has an atmosphere to it that helps in drawing you into the drama. Immersion value is certain augmented by cinematography by Andrij Parekh that is often kind of flat in an attempt to project realism that is reinforced by shaky camerawork which further limits visual style's artistic value, but when visual style is really allowed to breathe, it stuns, with a rugged texture and intense emphasis on sparse lighting that is frequently handsome, often gorgeous and sometimes just plain breathtaking. It takes a while to get used to the style of this film, but once you do, it stands out, perhaps more so than the substance that it, in fact, compliments, though not without the help of Derek Cianfrance's directorial thoughtfulness, which, again, dulls things down much more often than it should, but not exactly much more often than not, because when material to soak up with meditativeness really kicks in, through subtle style and an immersive atmosphere, Cianfrance milks it for all its worth. What brings this film to the brink of rewarding are moments of realization to storytelling that are not simply effective, but powerful, and if those moments were just a little more consistent, then the final product would have overcome its shortcomings and kept you gripped through and through, as it has a story for that. Yes, I understand that I'm kind of contradicting myself by saying that this story can be made into a strong film after I've gone on about how all of its overt realism thins the magnitude of dramatic meat, but there are still plenty of meaty elements to this audaciously genuine character study, done a degree of justice by a script by Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis that, despite its inconsistencies, offers pretty well-rounded characterization to bond you with the characters who drive this intimate opus. Of course, what really powers the human touch of this drama is the portrayals of the characters themselves, as the dashing... when not balding Ryan Gosling (Well, that's one way to sell the progression of time; sorry, ladies) and the lovely Michelle Williams, while not doing much more than fulfilling your usual roles, utilize layered charisma and nuance to sell the Dean and Cindy characters' gradual changes through the years, in addition to layered chemistry which sells all of the rises and falls that sell the relationship that in turn sells this drama. Even though there is some underwriting to the acting material, Gosling and Williams are the most consistent driving forces for this effort, yet do not work alone in bringing the final product to life, at least about as much as it can be, as there is enough inspiration in the telling of a worthy story to make a reasonably effective drama, even if it does feel as though there is more to be explored here. Overall, conventions and structural unevenness to the arguably overly atmospheric telling of a story of limited theatrical intrigue dull down momentum, until the final product falls short of rewarding, though not so far short that gorgeous score work and cinematography, often effectively thoughtful direction, well-characterized writing and a pair of strong performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams aren't able to secure "Blue Valentine" as a decent and often moving affair, despite some sense of lost potential. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2013
    The narrative structure is a reflection of the exercise I would recommend any contemporary couple to make in order to reflect their past and make amendments in the present for the construction of a better future, especially if there are children involved. Nobody is perfect, and both made mistakes that brought the present state of things, but there are also mistakes being done today. That is the part in which forgiveness and the sworn "everlasting love" come into play. A great, realistic romance movie as honest as a gem like <i>Once</i> (2006), in which two very respectable performances add layers to believable characters to empathize our situation with theirs, if applicable. 84/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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