Derek Cianfrance’s BLUE VALENTINE – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

“You made a promise to me, okay?”

Steeped in fiery passion and offset by raging resentment and animosity is the quagmire that is Derek Cianfrance’s spellbinding portrait, BLUE VALENTINE. 

The film is one of the most realistic portrayals of a new and growing love that eventually unravels in an emotionally catastrophic way.  There isn’t a good guy or a bad guy, there are just two people who have drifted apart over time.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams duel throughout the entire film.  Each respective actor is continuously making the other one better, breaking new waves as they reach deeper within themselves to catapult their performance in a real and heaetbreakingly honest way.

Derek Cianfrance has quietly become a master filmmaker.  His vision is taut, compelling, and grounded within the secret horrors of reality.  His aesthetic and technical choices are paramount to his finished product.

The film was shot in one part 16mm for flashbacks and then one part digitally for present day.  The editing duties were split between Cianfrance’s two collaborators Jim Helton and Ron Patane whom edited the two timeframes in the film separately.

The film ends with a pulverizing gut punch.  For one of the characters, there is no more forward momentum; all is lost.  And then the film’s closing credits happen.  The credits are the most powerful closing credits since THE CHINA SYNDROME.  Editor Jim Helton constructs a closing sequence of still frames of Gosling and Williams young and in love, freeze frames encapsulating moments in time of over romanticized memories and faded dreams.

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