Blue Valentine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Blue Valentine Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 9, 2017
Back in 2004 when Ryan Gosling was still a relative unknown, he caught a break by starring in a little love story called The Notebook. It was a huge hit among the ladies and he charmed the knickers off many a bored housewife. Needless to say, Gosling became a star overnight and he developed a very enthusiastic female fanbase. Try asking a lot of women, or even some men for that matter, what they think is a good romantic movie and The Notebook will generally get a shout-out. As a little social experiment, I'd like to offer up an alternative to those who love Gosling, The Notebook and those who love to see romance triumph over adversity by suggesting they watch Blue Valentine. It's the polar opposite of that sentimental and clichéd pap and could induce nightmares to those of a more sensitive nature when it comes to how relationships are depicted on screen.

Plot: Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a young, working class couple who finds themselves at a testing juncture in their marriage. Cindy has ambitions and looking for more from life while Dean has remained the same person and shows little chance of changing. This puts a lot of pressure on their relationship as resentment and bitterness begin to appear and the dissolution of their marriage becomes an inevitability.

Apparently borrowing from the Tom Waits album of the same name, Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine is a perfectly fitting title. It's a contradiction in terms of how something can be so sweet and beautiful yet also so cruel and depressing. That is the tone and exploration of Cianfrance's tragic love story. As we are introduced to the lives of Dean and Cindy we witness their courtship and their marriage while it's juxtaposed with their breakup. The earlier moments of their relationship is filled with happiness, hope and genuine love and affection while the latter times are so deeply painful and emotionally devastating. The real stroke of genius here, though, is in Cianfrance's decision to avoid a linear structure. He intercuts with opposing time-frames which allows him to dissect the whole meat and bones of these two characters' lives together with a detailed analysis of events and behaviours. As a result of the non-linear approach we, as viewers, are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions and given a fly-on-the-wall experience of this affair that's told with an unflinching realism.

Alongside co-writer's Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne, Cianfrance achieves a meticulous balance to the film. It could have been so easy to side with one character or the other but as we see these people (warts and all) we come to understand that neither one of them is solely to blame for the breakdown of their relationship. I found myself taking it from a male perspective and seeing Cindy as cold, distant and unloving but then I could see it from her perspective and how Dean refused to grow or challenge himself. As Cindy wants more for her life and career, Dean is content with simply being a husband and father. Neither one is in the wrong but, unfortunately, they become incompatible due to their individual wants and differing needs.

In order for it all to come together, though, it demands commited performances. And that's exactly what we get from Gosling and Williams. The verisimilitude of this relationship is owed to the magnificent work that two leads put into it. In order to achieve the requisite authenticity, Gosling and Williams improvised a lot of their lines and even rented an apartment together for a month where they shared the stresses of daily life by living within the same meagre budget of their characters, going shopping, cooking meals, sharing the same bathroom and exploring different ways of picking fights with each other. Their commitment and approach to the roles really pays off and they are entirely convincing in their fluctuating ranges of emotion. Williams was rightly afforded an Oscar nomination for her work (losing out to Natalie Portman for Black Swan) but Gosling was disgracefully overlooked. This is one of those films where the performances are inseparable and it remains some of the very finest work both Williams and Gosling have delivered.


A very bleak but tender anatomy of a relationship that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Boasting extraordinary performances from the leads, it's so sobering and realistically depicted that it's uncomfortable to watch. Never have I seen a relationship on screen that's depicted with such brutal honesty with a simple viewing being enough to save some couples a fortune in relationship counselling. It may not be the best film for a romantic evening with your other half but it's the best film about the challenges that a long term relationship brings. Outstanding work by all involved.

Mark Walker
½ August 5, 2017
Love, invincible in all battles. But can love survive peace? Is pure love enough? Remarkable performance by Gosling, putting drama at it's best.
July 14, 2017
Wow, this movie is brutal! This film depicts a real life marriage dissolving. This hit close to home so it tore me apart. This is the truth of relationships. Derek Cianfrance makes you feel like you are just a fly on the wall in their relationship. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both deliver heartbreaking performances that will leave you broken at the end of this film.
July 9, 2017
Blue Valentine is the story of a sad, tragic falling apart of a relationship. Derek Cianfrance directs this emotional film and gets great performances out of Gosling and Williams. This movie fucked me up a little, it's very depressing but worth a watch.
June 17, 2017
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling tear up the screen !
June 5, 2017
The way Ciafrance balances between past and present, technically and emotionally, is something else. The chemistry between the two protagonists is also incredible. A film about real life romance, a love story indeed.
May 25, 2017
The closeness to real life is frightening and makes the movie hard to watch. An excellent portrayal of young love and the failings of a relationship due to the weight of real life. Some might find the movie slow paced and boring.
May 23, 2017
A gem of a film. Hard to take the reality it shows and a perfect blend of drama and romance. Gosling's performance can sometimes be mistaken by real feelings and emotions. Half the time you think you're watching a story unroll, and half the time you're believing in it all. w
April 15, 2017
This movie messed me up.
April 13, 2017
Visceral and so real. Won't be for everyone, but a great change of pace. One of my favourite movies of all time.
March 19, 2017
Did not enjoy this movie at all. Strange storyline with not much substance and depressing feel to it. Would not recommend.
½ March 14, 2017
Intercutting scenes from a fond romantic past and the marriage at the brink of sudden brutal death, Derek Cianfrance attempts to dissect an achingly complex relationship to understand his own parents' breakup. And, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling deliver magnificent performances that simply rip hearts.
February 24, 2017
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February 21, 2017
You have his name wrong in the description. It's Dean, not David.
February 21, 2017
Grade - B-
'Blue Valentine' may label itself as a love story, and whilst it technically is, don't go in expecting a sweet romance. Whilst the movie does suffer in terms of how the characters, in particular that of Cindy, keep changing their attitude towards people and the decisions they make, the performances are very good, as is the dialogue and direction. Certainly worth checking out.
February 9, 2017
Loved how it unfolded, interweaving the initial love story with a failing marriage
February 2, 2017
It was a good movie, but Cindy seemed to have a horrible attitude towards Dean for no reason.
January 24, 2017
Blue Valentine is a good diverge of regular romance stories that includes a snappy screenplay, good direction and brilliant acting. Cianfrance knows when to apply humour (which works to great affect due to Goslings brilliant comedic timing in particular) and when you make the tone more serious. Ryan Gosling is fantastic, he's almost playing two different characters, one charming and playful, the other unstable and kind of childish. Michelle Williams' character seems to always be moody apart from about 10 minutes of the film but she plays it well. Cianfrance trusts his audience with the film and allows us to figure things out for ourselves without telling us why things are as they are straight away. Switching between the two time zones is a little bit frustrating though as it changed the part of the story right when I was getting into the current one a couple of times towards the beginning. The only other problem I have is a spoiler related one so I'll put it below and you can read if you want, or not if you haven't seen it yet.


They never properly mention whose child Frankie is. I think Dean knew it wasn't his but you never actually see any proper reaction and his relationship is so close to Frankie that I couldn't be one-hundred percent sure.
January 17, 2017
I usually hate romance movies. They are fake, stupid and leave people with unrealistic expectations of real relationships. Blue Valentine is the opposite of all that and that's why its so good. This movie is about the demise of a marriage, so people in rock solids relationships may not be able to relate.

Action films I can understand being over the top because they are usually works of fiction. Romantic films usually deal with real human drama but always gets it wrong and are usually just plain terrible. You don't need to be fake to get great human drama. The Notebook literally celebrated having an affair, which is about as backwards as it gets. Blue Valentine is so authentic it is scary.

Real people do act like the Blue Valentine characters. I've experienced situations from the film which made it all the more powerful to watch. They show the characters upbringing which clearly lay out why the characters behave the way they do.

The flashbacks in this film are exceptionally done. They mirror the beginning of their relationship to the beginning of the end of their relationship.

Emotionally gripping, well-acted, with a wonderful score, Blue Valentine is a great film.
½ January 16, 2017
A realistic portrait of a relatioship, it has some really beautiful moments and it's a great emotional film, with an expert direction. The ending along with the credits are a tear-maker.
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