PHOTOS & STILLS - GALLERY
BLUE VALENTINE - DOES LOVE COME WITH AN EXPIRY DATE?
In a very delicate moment when their marriage is on the brink of breaking away in tatters, Cindy (played by Michelle Williams) tells Dean (Ryan Gosling) that she cannot take it anymore and that it is best they split. “Do you want Frankie (their child) to grow up in a broken home,” Dean asks for which Cindy replies that she definitely does not want the child to grow up in a home where her parents hate each other. My eyes welled up in tears as that scene played out and although I cannot identify with that situation, that and many other scenes in Blue Valentine evoked a strange sense of empathy towards its actors – a feeling that is increasingly becoming rare in mainstream movies these days.
Blue Valentine unravels in intense snapshots after snapshots picturing the lead couple’s romance, subsequent wedding and their falling apart. Dean is a blue-collar worker and Cindy aspires to study medicine. Their romance ends in a simple wedding after she gets pregnant. “Let’s start a family,” Dean tells her after she changes her mind about terminating her pregnancy on the examination table at an abortion clinic. The love, however, slowly evaporates despite their priorities about their little girl, Frankie.
Director Cianfrance has a perfect reason to explain why their marriage turned sour. "Mundane domestic tasks have a way of really stagnating two people and deteriorating something that's beautiful," he told an interviewer. To bring about the change in their personalities, Cianfrance made Michelle and Gosling live together in a same house and made them survive on a meager grocery budget (a budget that could be afforded by a couple employed in the same profession as Cindy (as a nurse) and Dean (as a painter)). Though it is not clear whether the friendly relationship between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling suffered due to this perilous exercise, the results are a raw and extremely powerful movie that will stand a proof of tremendous dedication of its director and the actors.
Perhaps the mundane existence pushed them to two different corners ruining their relationship beyond repair. Dean is still hopelessly in love with Cindy despite love fast drying up between them. He is desperate to reach out to her and is also dealing with issues of insecurities with regard to their relationship. He also loves Frankie, despite her parentage, because his love for Dean is unbound.
Ryan and Michelle are extremely credible in their portrayal of their characters - both as their younger selves and in their twenties as they desperately watch their marriage crumble before their eyes. The movie’s narrative flips both back and forth to reveal the contrasts in their relationship – their intense love and what their marriage would become of eventually, loveless and frantic to break away from each other.
Populated by just these two characters, Blue Valentine has that raw quality for a movie that is capable of putting you on the edge. Partly because Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams improvised on their dialogues so nothing looks staged in the movie - even his frustration at trying to understand why she is no longer in love with him at the motel room where he takes her in a frantic attempt to revive their relationship. The actors are constantly trying to push the boundaries and the movie’s writing is in perfect sync with them.
Now suddenly I am reminded of Meena’s crispy cotton saris in pastel colors and lipsticks to go with it – her attire to portray a housewife who is from the lower middle class in the movie Kuselan. This when her character’s poverty is so acute that she had no grain in her kitchen to put food on the plates of her family. This also when she could not pay the children’s school fees and is blighted by many such lower middle-class impediments. Not to victimize Meena, but that is slipping-in-the-skin-of-the-character as we understand it.
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