Blue Valentine Review: When Emo-Fascists Attack

That said, this era is by far the most believable of their relationship. The rest comprises a juxtaposition of unplanned pregnancies, suicide threats off the Manhattan Bridge, violent beatings, run-over dogs, numerous screaming matches, gratuitous shower erotica (or attempted erotica, anyway), and other narrative implausibilities fueling Cianfrance's appetite for destruction. It's not enough that Cindy and Dean should simply drive off to a sleazy sex motel in his attempt to rekindle and/or save their marriage; she must bump into her ex on the way to the sex motel, then disclose this encounter to Dean as if he wouldn't bristle at the mention of the guy who once beat him to within an inch of his life.

Like all of Blue Valentine's emo-fascist twaddle, Cianfrance counts on this working dramatically because of the non-linear plot. Dean's suspicion is supposed to add a flourish of mystery and darkness to the proceedings, but for a change (and a wholly remarkable one) Gosling isn't dynamic enough to drive the least bit of emotion from his co-star or his viewer. Instead, we get fast, flabby bursts of alpha-male posturing, mostly improvised in a kind of freestyle blend of repeated rhetorical questions ("What are you gonna do?" "You want it like this?") and lost-child whinging ("I don't know what to do! Tell me what to do! I'll do it! I'll do it!"). Gosling's tics are hilariously disingenuous, with every hand through his receding hairline (yet another clumsy symbol of passing time) almost always giving way to a slumping head and some groan that might be dialogue. The results are not only insulting to Williams, who dangles quite credibly at wits end despite having no grip to work with, but also emblematic of the smug, self-conscious place where Sundance films go to die. It all plays out like a nightmare Ingmar Bergman might have had were he drugged and date-raped on the set of Scenes From a Marriage.

It simply didn't have to be this way. Even cinematographer Andrij Parekh, whose exquisite, shallow depths of field gave Gosling so much of his Oscar-nominated presence in Half Nelson, is limited here to flat, inert renditions of both actors. Cianfrance defaults to blurry close-ups during the film's rather graphic sex scenes, kind of the aesthete's budget alternative to soft-core cheesecloth. In the end, the director underscores his utter lack of control over virtually everything onscreen with a final shot that actually does work. God forbid I should spoil that minor success here, but I don't mind giving away the promise that you'll ask yourself after watching Blue Valentine: "Why was I never more moved than when it was finally, finally over?"

Pages: 1 2


  • Bob says:

    Here we go again. The perfect example of a review that makes me hate critics.
    Anytime I read a review such as this one, I know I will like the movie. What a bitter, pissy, over-exaggerator! You can't just come out and say you didn't like it and give clear, thoughtful reasons why - you have to be all dramatic and sling around made-up, bullshit, meaningless phrases like "emo-fascist." Seriously?!?
    Here is my suggestion to you - be a professional. You'll get less shock-based reader traffic, but you'll survive longer in the critic business. Nobody with an ounce of brains can take a review like this seriously. It's the opposite of the "I love this movie because Ryan Gosling is hot!" brand of review, but it is no more meaningful or credible. Is there a personal vendetta hidden somewhere here?
    Another thought: Try putting yourself out there for critical bashing. Create something, then let the Skeksis out there in critic land have at it. You might have a more thoughtful approach next time you give your two cents on the product of somebody's heart and soul.

  • Daft Clown says:

    It's just that age-old emaciated Michelin Man falls for albino lumberjack story all over again.

  • qwerty says:

    I have exactly one ounce of brains, and I took this review seriously.

  • dbert says:

    I saw the premiere and agree with the critic. I stopped caring about the movie half-way through. My conclusion as to why though is the opposite of his. Williams and Goseling gave great performances. However, from my perspective William's character was given next to nothing to work with in the script. This made her come off as an opportunistic user. We never get to see how or why she gets to the place she is at the end of the movie. In any event, huge disappointment no matter how it is sliced. Shame, really.

  • xavier ravin says:

    I hate this critic.

  • Alt Fashion says:

    This was a very good post. I wish to hear more. Maybe your guests will like my website with cybergoth and scene kids pictures.

  • nom says:

    I disliked this film a lot. The acting was good in parts, but very uneven and really quite bad in parts. The plot was melodramatic, very depressing. There was a brutality in the sexuality and other areas which was completely unappealing with nothing really redeeming in the film to make us want to sit through it - I nearly left for good and did at one point to get a drink. It does not show people in a good light at all. This film represents another part in the dumbing down of America, film and the loss of the poetic.

  • Ryan says:

    I just saw the film and I have to disagree. This is probably one of the most emotionally authentic movies I've seen in a while. The dialogue wasn't contrived where what they say had to build on the story, but more so the emotions the characters were describing. I think the majority of people who didn't like blue valentine, enjoy romantic comedies like how to lose a guy in 10 days or something.

  • Hi! I could have sworn I've visited this web site before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it's new
    to me. Anyways, I'm definitely delighted I came across it
    and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!