Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 5
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THEIR DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES QUICKLY TURNED TO VINEGAR AND WEEDS: Dean (Ryan Gosling, left) serenades his wife Cindy (Michelle Williams) with the song that captured her heart. However, after their ardor cooled, the mismatched couple were quickly at each other’s throats, primarily because their backgrounds and expectations were so completely different.

Blue Valentine: Flashback Film Deconstructs Failed Marriage

Kam Williams

Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (Michelle Williams) marriage was doomed from the start. When they met, she was a promising premed student and he was a high school dropout who had to take a minimum wage job in order to keep a roof over his head. At the time, she was attending a college in rural Pennsylvania while he was eking out a living in Brooklyn.

Their paths crossed quite by coincidence when Dean was assigned by his moving company to help an elderly gentleman (Melvin Jurdem) relocate to a nursing home on the very same day Cindy was there visiting her ailing grandmother (Jenn Jones). For Dean, it was love at first sight, and when he still couldn’t get her out of his mind a month later, he found an excuse to return to Scranton to try to track her down.

The incurable romantic serendipitously spots the object of his obsession on a bus and wins her heart on the spot by serenading her with a song. He had no idea, however, that she not only already had a boyfriend Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel), but that she was carrying his baby.

Nonetheless, Cindy takes Dean home to meet her parents (John Doman and Maryann Plunkett). They are underwhelmed by their daughter’s choice of a chain-smoking underachiever who does not appear to have any prospects for the future. Predictably, their obvious disappointment with Dean does not discourage him from proposing to Cindy that very night.

After Cindy accepts the proposal, the mismatched pair enters into a disastrous six year relationship filled with incessant arguing caused by their inability to communicate effectively. Their baby, Frankie (Faith Wladyka), is the innocent victim because he is being raised by incompetent parents.

“Can this marriage be saved?” is the central question in Blue Valentine, a flashback movie directed by Derek Cianfrance.

Michelle Williams received an Oscar nomination for her performance as a wife embittered by both motherhood and the burden of being the breadwinner. Co-star Ryan Gosling is just as convincing in his role as Dean, a chuckleheaded slacker with many shortcomings.

Unfortunately, the movie has a fundamental flaw; it’s no fun to watch. Regardless of how plausible a picture Blue Valentine might be, this critic cannot recommend that my readers undergo such an unpleasant experience, no matter how well-acted.

A depressing analysis of a marriage that clearly was never meant to be.

Fair (1 star). Rated R for profanity, nudity, violence, and graphic sexuality. Running time: 112 minutes. Distributor: The Weinstein Company.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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