DIRECTED BY DEREK CIANFRANCE
STARRING: RYAN GOSLING, MICHELLE WILLIAMS, FAITH WLADYKA, JOHN DOMAN and MIKE VOGEL
I watched avidly into the end credits of ‘Blue Valentine’ looking for a silver lining. Not that I was unmindful of the fact that it had already passed me by, but I had to rack it up all the same looking for some closure, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t offer me any. It’s the open ends that often leave it to you to tie them in your own way – they can’t get any more conclusive than this one.
Perspective substantiates ‘Blue Valentine’ – I could see her for what she was, but it would probably take a woman to take the other side. Unreasonable, irreconcilable separations leave one with a thirst for explanation, while I found self-sufficiency in this. What I saw (which, by all means, could be different from what was shown to me) was a phase, and a one-sided one at that. The other party, unmistakably the guy Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling) would stay in his skins until as long as they last, namely till the last moment of the film. There is potentially no scope for exploitation, for there is nothing but misery if one were to attempt it in the remotest manner.
Snuggled into an awe-inspiring role, Ryan Gosling excels not in ‘apt execution’ but actually enlarges his performance, accommodating dimensions of love, sex, submission, occasional bursts of anger, of gloom but never one of doubt. With this effort, he manages to elevate the not-so-uncommon nice person outfit to superstardom, wherein to call it ‘epic’ would be a criminal understatement. And this line of thought led me to fathom and I could not fathom enough to figure out how writer-director Derek Cianfrance could have come up with something that is this self-demeaning that it eventually comes out to be an uncontested winner! The pedestal that I happened to place Dean Pereira was way higher than that of Cindy Heller (Michelle Williams), who, for all intents and purposes, stands on solid ground.
I am cautious though in crediting people for ‘Blue Valentine’. To Dean Pereira, the triumph is universal, he shall forever be loved even if not entirely understood. To Ryan Gosling, the reaction is plain awe at having induced a naturalism that it doesn’t look induced at all! To Cindy Heller, on the other hand, is hatred – boiling hatred at zero empathy, although it is not entirely impossible to rationalize her stand. To Michelle Williams, I commit my humble applause. The pair of them – irreplaceable. Gosling and Williams pull off a level of anti-chemistry that has seldom been seen before, and they do it with the deadly combination of lucidity and sappy devotion. To call the ‘love’ flaccid would just mean lack of a better word, for it is existent. Nevertheless, it is but an extra piece in a jigsaw puzzle that is complete without it – it is unnecessary and hence, pivotal.
I would not gauge ‘Blue Valentine’ as a ‘first film’ at all – Derek Cianfrance beats that outlook by his very conception, and the film in itself is crucial, and not just an exhibit of exemplary acting and impressive narration. What’s best is the life in it, and what’s even better is that it offers it for public viewership than shy away to critical eyes. It is the truth – both agonizing, and truly beautiful.