Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blue Valentine (Rhoades)

"Blue Valentine” Is Not Really a Love Letter
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Elvis sang about a Blue Christmas, but director Derek Cianfrance wants to give us a Blue Valentine.
“Blue Valentine” is an oddball love story starring oddball actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Ryan was seen dating a life-size plastic doll in the quirky film “Lars and the Real Girl.” Michelle was looking for her lost dog in “Wendy and Lucy.” Both performers seem to be more comfortable in indie productions than Hollywood big-budget extravaganzas.
“Blue Valentine” is currently reaching local indie fans at the Tropic Cinema.
This Valentine’s card offers a look at a lackadaisical guy and a down-to-earth nurse who wind up getting married despite their differences. The film follows their marriage over the years, contrasting her ambitions with his stay-at-home comfort zone. Wife and kid are all he needs to make him happy. She wants more.
Pay attention. The storyline jumps back and forth in time, from courtship to marriage and back again. A way of helping us determine when and why the marriage started to unravel. Ryan’s goofy persona is spotlighted when he plays the ukulele and convinces her to tap dance on the sidewalk. Her grumpy discontent is obvious when father and daughter wake her up from a nap to share their childlike glee.
Despite an intense sex scene, the film only has an R rating. The Weinstein Company flexed its muscles and successfully appealed the original PG-17 without having to make any cuts.
At its heart “Blue Valentine” is a poignant character study. Slow paced and longish, it’s a bit of a downer for those seeking Cupid’s romance.
Gosling and Williams first met in real-life on the set of “The United States of Leland” where she played his girlfriend’s sister. Now, many independent films later, they come together again, this time as a mismatched couple.
Have they fallen prey to typecasting, at least as to the kind of roles they gravitate toward? Maybe.
Williams did her turn at teen romance on TV’s “Dawson’s Creek,” but proved her acting mettle in “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Station Agent.”
Like her character in “Blue Valentine” she admits to having a hard time balancing the demands of her career and the “consuming duties of motherhood.” She has a child by the late Heath Ledger, her costar in “Brokeback Mountain.”
She says the loss of Ledger and the bleakness of some of her roles have “taken a toll.”
However, things are beginning to look up for Michelle Williams, having received an Academy Awards nomination as Best Actress for her outstanding performance in “Blue Valentine.”
Ryan Gosling – who started out as a kid on TV’s “The Mickey Mouse Show” – offered his fans strong heartthrob appeal in “The Notebook.” But he chooses to stake his claim on indie films, delivering masterful performances as the coke-addicted teacher in “Half Nelson” or the off-center killer in “All Good Things.”
Like the character he plays in “Blue Valentine,” Gosling comes from a working class background. Most of his male relatives still toil in Canadian paper mills, he says. Pointing out that “acting’s a little easier.”
His performance in “Blue Valentine” was passed over for an Oscar nomination, but he doesn’t seem to care. He’s not one for mainstream whoopla.
What does he look for in an indie film role? “Really, it’s simple – just somebody I think is a real person,” he says.
As for “Blue Valentine,” it fills the bill. “The theme for me is love and the lack of it,” Gosling explains. “We all want that and we don’t know how to get it, and everything we do is some kind of attempt to capture it for ourselves.”
[from Solares Hill]

No comments: