I never want to be like my parents. I know they must've loved each other at one time right? To just get it all out of the way before they had me. How do you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that? –Cindy
For as long as I can remember, the main message of any romantic movie was that love was this amazing thing that solved everything and would last forever. One example that comes to mind is the ending of “When Harry Met Sally.” The original ending the director had in mind was that the titular characters don’t end up together. Billy Crystal would say his touching speech, and Meg Ryan would just say no, but the studio wanted a more commercial ending, something more cinematic and less realistic. The director, Rob Reiner, has stated that if you were to think realistically, Harry and Sally would not have kissed and gotten married.
However, the main message of Blue Valentine would probably be “Maybe it doesn’t last forever,” something that is not always addressed in films. The movie itself is simple. It shows the beginning of the relationship and the end of the relationship in a nonlinear fashion. The middle of the relationship is up to the viewer’s interpretation.
It moves between past and present showing us the highs and lows of the relationship. What I like about this movie is that it is unlike many of its peers; it is never schmaltzy or cheesy. Everything feels genuine. When we see them falling in love, we believe it and when we see them falling out of love, we believe it. Yet we know that this relationship is doomed to fail because that’s the other half of the movie we’re watching and the red flags are obvious even in the falling in love segments of the movie. They make stupid, irrational decisions that lead to their marriage. And let’s be honest, when young and in love, lots of people make stupid and irrational decisions.
Cindy gets knocked up by her douche ex-boyfriend, and Dean (the male lead) supports her anyway. When she cannot go through with the abortion, he decides to marry her and even help raise this other guy’s kid. Not to mention the fact that this other guy also beat up Dean at work (seriously, that guy’s a tool). Needless to say, Dean is a genuinely good man. The problem with this situation though is that when he decides to marry her, he immediately says it out loud: “Let’s raise a family.” He says this on the bus, she agrees and then they hug.
Marriage is a really big deal and it is not something you just decide on a whim. I’ve heard of many couples that have done this. I know lots of movies where this is deemed ok, it ends with a wedding and everything is hunky dory.
With Blue Valentine, we show what happens after the wedding. And though Dean is still a good man, loving his wife and daughter, that isn’t enough. Cindy grows to resent him. At one point, she asks him if he ever wanted to do anything with his life, that he has so much potential. Dean then says that he is perfectly happy with being the devoted family man, and nothing else. Lots of people who’ve seen this movie say that Cindy is portrayed in a negative light, and I guess I can see why they would think so but I think it portrays both characters fairly. I don’t think it’s fair to solely criticize Cindy, it was inevitable. They never should have married in the first place, but she was young, pregnant, and scared. You can’t really blame her for that. Plus, Dean has no other aspirations in his life, and most of the time he’s either chain-smoking or drinking. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a good guy, but it’s important to consider that.
Blue Valentine is that rare movie that dares to go beyond what you’d expect, and is probably the most realistic out of any movie that is about love or relationships. More people should see it.