Books & Flim

Marriage and The Blues

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

I’ve been catching up on some reading and movie watching this summer, as you can tell by some of my posts. My husband attended a dinner last night, and I plunked myself down in front of the television alone and watched a movie I’ve wanted to see ever since this year’s Oscar nominations came out—“Blue Valentine”—starring Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy). While I’ve decided not to do a full movie review, I’ll tell you that I liked it and found it thought provoking, hence the nature of this post. It was raw, depressing, and chock full of emotions. One of my former students, Jordan, loved this film, and I can see why she loved it. The realistic performances by both stars are worthy of the accolades the film received, and the artistic directing made me feel like a voyeur, which added to its uncomfortable authenticity.

I did, however, have trouble nailing the exact moment that the relationship between the two main characters starts to go downhill. There’s not one particular fight or argument or disaster, and then I thought, is there always? Marriages fail for a variety of reasons; it’s not always just one thing. People fall out of love, and sometimes one can no longer be a part of the duo. Or, as Michelle Williams’s character Cindy says in the film, “I just can’t do this anymore.”

My wise friend, Amy, once compared marriage to the waves in the surf. “Sometimes with relationships we are riding high on the crest, and other times, we are crashing down in the surf,” she said. I’ve never forgotten how aptly and poetically she put this; I think it’s so true. Marriage can be tumultuous at times. But it’s certainly nice when the ocean is calm and the crest and crashes are at a minimum.

This film depicts marriage in an interesting way—we feel for both characters, though it’s not a pretty picture of marriage by any means. It’s the downturn and separation and sadness of it that we see, and we question, was the pair ever really happy to begin with? Were these two meant to be together? There are circumstances that lead to their swift betrothal, and these certainly cannot be discounted. Did she give up too much of herself at too young an age? Did he give her all that she needed? Did he do his part to work through the struggles? Did she?

Obviously, I’m left pondering these questions twelve hours after the credits rolled last night. As I continue to write my fictional work, it’s always educational for me to look at the relationships of others and how they are depicted.

One thing is true, though: “Blue Valentine” certainly makes you think and wonder about your own relationship and whether or not you are doing all you can do to make it a happy one.

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