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Blue Valentine


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Then before I begin reading on it -- and I have a feeling I'll read up on this one quite a bit -- I do find it interesting that people are dwelling on the father/daughter aspect of the story, or even the child/dad vs. mom who needs a "real man" aspect, rather than the

sacrifice of a man in love, both at the start of the relasionship and at its end -- the sacrifice to take the little girl on and love her as he obviously does, so beautifully drawn out in those opening scenes, but he's even willing to leave the love at the end of the film when he knows he's no longer good for their lives

.

At least that's one way to read it.

Another is that she'd just said she needed space, so he's finally giving her some that day.

Agreed and as the reviewer said earlier, Dean is in many ways a kid-- impulsive and simplistic. I think what irked me the more I thought about the film afterward, was despite his immaturity he was a really decent guy who would make any sacrifice for his family and the Williams character was a bit of a duplicitous, selfish turd. I found it difficult to sympathize with her plight.

That is because we get the whole story in under two hours and not in the eight or nine years that it actually took place. People change. He may have been good for her then. Perhaps he is not now. We get a lot of the cross-cut from then to now, but not much in-between.

Finally, why has no one mentioned that Grizzly Bear did the music?

I noticed it a lot during the film, liked it quite a bit, and at the closing credits (which are beautiful on the big screen, btw) it all seemed to make perfect sense.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Tyler wrote:

: You have it right. When Cindy is having sex with the other boyfriend, she gets mad at him when they're finished, but it's not clear why at the time. That's the scene where she gets pregnant.

FWIW, I was under the impression that she was mad because he didn't pull out before you-know-what, thus increasing the likelihood that she would get pregnant. But she could have been mad for a completely unrelated reason, too, I suppose.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Dean is not without ambition. It's just that his ambition isn't career-related. More than once he reminded me of another character in a sunnier movie. "What I really want to do with my life - what I want to do for a living - is I want to be with your daughter. I'm good at it."

Only, Dean didn't end up being as good at it as he intended to be.

The "meet the parents" dinner table scenes really connected the two films for me.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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One of the keys for me was early on when Dean muses with his co-workers about the difference in romance between men and women. (I think there is a bit of Mars/Venus at play in the film.)

My first impression of each of was somewhat negative. Neither of them could be classified as a good catch. It's not that they are without good qualities. But the seeds of their destruction are clearly planted along side the seeds they hope will bring happiness. The weeds of course will choke out the other seeds. (Where is the Adjustment Bureau when you need them?)

This is a painful film to watch. I've met these people. At times I've been these people.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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This is a painful film to watch. I've met these people. At times I've been these people.

Yeah, you do kind of look like Michelle Williams.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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A couple of things.

I noted a bit of a continuity error. When Dean and Cindy are having their big argument in her father's kitchen, most of it takes place in front of a window, and you can see rain outside. But when they go in the house and when they come out, it's not raining. Oops.

Concerning the discussion about the rating change and comparison to Black Swan. True the oral sex scenes are equivalent. But there is much more copulation in this film - in many variations - and lots of thrusting if that is the kind of thing the committee looks for. I suspect the ratings review process was more willing to lower the rating of this film from NC-17 because it was Oscar bait. They may not have wanted another Midnight Cowboy.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 7 months later...

John August, in a post headlined "Dear Cindy in Blue Valentine":

So, hey, you’re pregnant. And it’s not welcome news, because you’re in college and hope to go to medical school.

You’re not sure if the champion sperm belongs to the scruffy-cute ukelele player or the asshole college wrestler. (But you kind of know it’s the wrestler.) Neither is exactly well-positioned for fatherhood.

You live with your parents. Let’s be frank; your family is not great. Your dad is an asshole. Your mom is a doormat. I doubt they’re much help right now.

We don’t see a lot of your deliberation process, but you decide to get an abortion. Then, just as the procedure is starting, you call it off. And that’s fine. Choice means choice. The doctor, nurse and everything about that clinic seemed appropriately sober and professional.

You decide to marry ukelele guy. I won’t offer any spoilers about how that turns out.

I’m actually writing to call your attention to one other undramatized choice: adoption.

Yes: it would have messed up the plot of your movie. But in terms of the plot of your life, I think it could have worked out pretty well. . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 year later...

Nice film, although I suppose the Netflix version was cut a little. The relationship is a little muddy in both time periods. I would have liked more interaction to figure things out. Bothered me a little that Gosling was the only one trying in the relationship and ended up being the one taking all the blame.

Interesting setup in that

Cindy is from a home where her parents fought all the time, while Dean was from a single parent home. When it comes down to stay or leave, neither of them wants their own childhood experience for their daughter.

Thought the scene with the wrestler was pretty obvious, she was mad at him for

not pulling out

.

Although thought it was interesting that while the film made it rather clear that Dean

was not the biological father of their child, he never really uses it against her in their arguments.

Rather mad that the film ends on a sad note, though it seemed as if it was intentionally ambiguous. Never having been involved in a marriage it's always made me a little angry that people can't grow up a little and make their relationships work. Sure they were immature, sure they rushed into marriage, but in the end the only reason it didn't work is because they're too selfish to try. But it's easier to judge from the sidelines than to actually do it.

Edited by theoddone33
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  • 4 weeks later...

What a harrowing film. (SPOILERS AHEAD).

This isn't the kind of movie that gives clear-cut answers to the character's problems, but it seems very much a film about abuse.

Cindy's boyfriend is abusive.

Gosling's character is abusive.

Her dad is abusive.

We learn that she first had sex when she was thirteen.

The film is about a long history of dependency and abuse. And finally, at the end of the film, Cindy can't take it any more. There's a note of hope there, but I sure don't feel hopeful . . .

And yet, since the film is pretty ostensibly about 'love,' maybe I need to say more than that. Maybe I need to say that this is a film that postulates a sort of dependency inherent in romantic ideals. A dependency that just doesn't work out, more often than not, if ever.

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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On a formal level, this is an accomplished film.

Note especially the use of Super 16 in the flashback sections contrasted with the use of digital in the present.

I also noticed that the past is shot mostly in wide, open shots. There are a lot of long takes.

The present is much more 'confined' and 'constricted.' There's a lot of close-ups where we can't even see where the characters are in relationship to each other. On a formal level, the present section is almost literally suffocating and alienating. Brilliant filmmaking.

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jen and I just saw this last night. Reading this thread, I'm struck by the subtle, but clear, plotline…

of the doctor at Cindy's office. He obviously wanted to separate her from her family by suggesting she get herself her own apartment for a new position, instead of moving her whole family. She responds by noting that she thought he wanted her for the postion because of her qualifications.

When you add this to Dean's later question to him, asking if he's the doctor who has been sending his wife emails, it seems clear that Cindy has been up to something that she feels guilty about.

As such, I don't really see Cindy as innocent in all this. She's been deceptive and, because of that has kind of decided that…

the marriage is doomed and not a candidate for any kind of redemption. In that, I think we have a thoughtful case study on the things we all do to send relationships to their deaths -- while some are explicit, some are implicit and quiet -- but equally damning.

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So you'd say Cindy's "innocence" is more a form of passive-aggression, perhaps?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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