Back in September I wrote a post about my excited anticipation for a movie called "Blue Valentine" starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. As it turns out, I didn't get to see the movie in the theater, but the minute it was available on Netflix I had it shipped to my house.
I think in general, there are two kinds of movies: those that are plot driven and those that are simply a slice of life. In the "slice of life" variety, nothing really happens, you just get to witness a certain period of time in someone's life. You are a mere fly on the wall for those two hours. That is the case with "Blue Valentine."
The movie starts in present day where Ryan and Michelle's characters are living in a tremendously unhappy marriage. She is repulsed by him and the beer drinking, cigarette smoking, lazy person he has become and he resents her for never putting out. Over the course of the film you toggle between present day and the first few months when their characters met, grew to like each other and eventually got married.
This movie left me feeling completely depressed. As I do with all DVDs, I watched the special features hoping for some gem that would put the movie into a more positive light. Well, indeed they did! During the "Making Of" reel, I learned that the writer and director, Derek Cianfrance, first began writing this script when he was twenty. His parents had just divorced after two decades of marriage and he found himself wondering, "After all that time, where does the love go?"
He wrote the script and six years later he shared it with Michelle Williams. He asked her to accept the role (which she did) and then they spent six year (SIX YEARS!) refining it together.
Two years into that six year period, Derek approached Ryan Gosling about playing the male lead in the film. He accepted and spent the next four years providing feedback and ideas. By the time to two actors came together to shoot the film, they had a combined tens years of time to become one with their characters!
During the "Making Of" feature I also learned that Derek asked Michelle, Ryan and the actress who plays their daughter to live together in their house (the one they live in during the movie) to form a genuine, family bond. He wanted them to have sincere memories together so they could feel sincere pain when their family began to break apart. Talk about method acting! That is Christian Bale status!
Unless you have a burning desire to experience the pain and sadness of a failing marriage, skip "Blue Valentine."