I’ve been seeing a lot of movies that have recently become available for illegal downloading and budget ticket prices, so I’ve finally become conversant at parties. I’ve also written amateur-ish reviews of all of them, as a special treat! Blue Valentine was the first target, because I’m human and I have a crush on Ryan Gosling.
I liked this movie. I really wanted to hate it - to find some sort of fault with it, because everyone I know loved it, and I’m a contrary person - but I couldn’t. It was a movie starring Ryan Gosling and featuring *spoiler alert but everyone on tumblr’s already seen it I guess* an unplanned pregnancy, so I was pretty much powerless against those forces, which I suppose are hot-button issues in my life.
Despite the extent that it panders to the hipster neighborhoods in which it must have been shown with ukulele serenades, Polaroid cameras, and impeccable ‘90’s fashions, it does a surprising job of capturing a panic that is inherently feminine and modern. The movie illustrates a changing dynamic in our society - it’s no longer necessarily in a woman’s best interest, economically or emotionally, to marry, and in many cases, it is impossible for a woman to find an available man of equal ambition. As a result, you tend to end up with a pretty good father who smokes cigarettes and swears around your kid, but he also wears kick-ass Bald Eagle sweatshirts and has agreed to raise a kid that isn’t biologically his. So.
Dean’s (this is Ryan Gosling - I never really thought of him as Dean, but rather, as Ryan) presence forces her (Cindy, although again, I thought of her as Michelle Williams) to live some sort of second-rate life, which we’re made to believe is not the life she would be living without him. Honestly, I can’t assume there is any difference other than an economic one between this life and the life she’d be living with her neanderthal wrestler, but that’s slightly irrelevant, I guess.
The feeling of being trapped in a relationship with someone who is trying very hard to be a good man is terrifying. They did a pretty good job with that, of displaying a relationship that becomes so insular that eventually all the contempt you have left is really just for yourself. I’ve had relationships that made me scream and sob and lash out and throw furniture, but the worst parts were always the parts after - the quiet parts.
I’ve never had the privilege, or perhaps the unique curse, of being in a relationship with someone who was so devoted to and enraptured with me that he refused to see the person I was loudly trying to be, nor have I fooled anyone into loving me for long enough to convince them to raise the child of my asshole ex-boyfriend. So I guess the scene where she walks out of the clinic and Dean is waiting for her was a little touching to my naive self. I suppose I can understand how a woman might be fooled into falling in love with a man who is willing to clean up after another man’s mistake, even if he is currently employed as a furniture mover, but only because I’ve never met a man who didn’t have to be loudly and almost violently forced to clean up after his own.
Watching this movie is nothing if not a validation of my choices. I never wanted to be a doctor, but I’ve wanted to be a lot more than unhappily married. Honestly, if not for Ryan Gosling, I couldn’t really say this was a movie I enjoyed in any capacity. To me, it was more of a horror movie.