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Film / Blue Valentine

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Yeah, sure, "A Love Story".

Blue Valentine is a 2010 independent drama film directed by Derek Cianfrance.

The film is about the doomed marriage of Dean (Ryan Gosling), an uneducated man working for a moving company, and Cindy (Michelle Williams), a medical student. The film cuts between their early relationship and a weekend several years later, after they are married and presumably near the end of their relationship.

The film features a score composed by the indie rock band Grizzly Bear. Michelle Williams was nominated for a 2011 Best Actress Academy Award for her role as Cindy.

Blue Valentine has examples of:

  • An Aesop: Don't rush into relationships before you really get to know your partner. The honeymoon phase won't last forever.
  • The Alcoholic: Hinted at with Dean, who drinks in the mornings before work and falls asleep on the couch.
  • Anachronic Order: The story is told with scenes switching from their failing marriage to when they first fell in love.
  • Awful Wedded Life:
    • Dean and Cindy's marriage is a rocky one that only gets progressively worse by the end. They married only presumably after a few weeks or months after dating, their conflicting personalities, and poor communication all come to a head, and by the end it's heavily implied they're headed for divorce.
    • Cindy's parents had this relationship with the father being emotionally abusive and the mother being too passive to fight back.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cindy's boss comes off as a Nice Guy who cares about her in a professional friendly manner, even helping her get a promotion. However, it's soon revealed that he's a slimeball who only gave her the said promotion because he was hoped it would lead to them having sex, despite being aware that she's married.
  • Black Comedy: Cindy's child molester joke.
  • Cerebus Callback: Dean jokes to Cindy that she's so beautiful that people will never treat her sincerely. Later in the film, it's revealed that the reason Cindy's boss wants her to relocate is so they can spend more time together, rather than for her experience.
  • Contrast Montage: Takes this one to the logical extreme - the entire movie is basically a contrast montage.
  • Covers Always Lie: The tagline simply says, "A Love Story". It does not claim to be a happy love story, or a story about lasting love.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy:
    • Bobby doesn't react well at all to Cindy moving on after their breakup, leaving angry messages over the phone for her and beating Dean up after stealing his business card from Cindy. No wonder Dean reacts badly to hearing Cindy nonchalantly recount meeting him by chance and talking with him.
    • Dean himself becomes this in a drunken rage at the end of the film, attacking Cindy's boss for emailing her outside of work.
  • Daddy's Girl: Frankie isn't Dean's child (possibly), but he loves and spends lots of time with her, and they clearly have a close and affectionate relationship.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dean's mother walked out on him and his father when he was a child, while Cindy has an abusive father.
  • Dark Reprise: Played with: early in the movie during the present storyline Dean puts on a song that he and Cindy slow dance to shortly after fighting in the hotel room. Later on in a flashback Dean plays it and declares to be their song, this actually makes the earlier scene sadder despite its reprise occurring during a happy scene.
  • Dead Sparks: The film starts out at this stage of the relationship, and it's contrasted with flashback scenes of Dean and Cindy first falling in love showing how they've deteriorated over time.
  • Dirty Coward: Bobby brings a couple of his buddies along when he beats up Dean.
  • Disappeared Dad: Maybe. Give that Cindy had unprotected sex with both Bobby and Dean within weeks of each other, there's a strong possibility that Bobby is Frankie's biological father and is likely unaware of her existence.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with Dean discovering that Cindy left the gate open, leading their dog to run away and get hit by a car.
  • Downer Ending: Dean and Cindy are on track to divorce, leaving a tearful Frankie chasing after him to try to stop him from leaving.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening of the film quickly establishes that Dean is a likely alcoholic who doesn't sleep with Cindy anymore, and while he has a good relationship with Frankie, his marriage with Cindy is cold and marred with her annoyance with his childish antics.
  • Fan Disservice: The oral sex scene. The atmosphere is dark and very depressing and the act is clumsy.
  • Fanservice: Dean providing oral sex to Cindy.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The doomed marriage of Dean and Cindy, the impending threat of divorce all but stated within the first few minutes of the film.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Deconstructed. Dean and Cindy marry each other despite only dating for a weeks or months, but the hasty marriage doesn't allow them to really get to know each other and their conflicting personalities that causes more problems in their already strained marriage.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Looks like it's going to be averted, but then played straight at the last possible minute.
  • Happier Times Montage: The credits, which shows a younger and happier Dean and Cindy over fireworks.
  • Hospital Hottie: Cindy is an attractive medical student who works at a hospital.
  • Idealized Sex: Averted in one of the saddest, most depressing consensual sex scenes of the past decade.
  • Jerkass: Bobby, Dean, as well as Cindy's father and her boss. Really, anyone who’s a man is an asshole in this movie.
  • Karma Houdini: Bobby and his friends never get in any trouble for beating up Dean.
  • Love at First Sight: Dean says this word for word about Cindy.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Cindy has unprotected sex with both Bobby and Dean and notes that either could be the father, though Bobby is the far more likely candidate, especially when a doctor confirms the baby is at least 11 weeks old. Dean doesn't care and loves Frankie as much as if she were his own daughter.
  • Manchild: Dean, to a certain extent. This is shown to be one of the main factors that's worn away at their marriage, with Cindy getting tired of Dean's immature, impulsive and emotional behavior, which makes it difficult for them to communicate or for her feelings to be taken into consideration.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Dean's mother walked out on him and his father.
    • Whatever became of Cindy's mother in the present timeline is unknown, either she died or divorced her abusive husband.
  • Pet the Dog: While Dean has many flaws, his interactions with Frankie show that he does genuinely love her and is a very affectionate father. In the flashbacks, his behavior towards Walter also counts.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Dean and Cindy's marriage erodes to the point where it's almost impossible for them to talk without bickering or taking potshots at each other, with deep-seated resentment on both sides.
  • Product Placement: The script for the movie won a $1 million prize from Chrysler, and the lead characters drive a Chrysler minivan in the final product.
  • Really Gets Around: While at the abortion clinic, Cindy states that she maybe had sex with 25 people.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Subverted. Dean and Cindy get married after she becomes pregnant, but Dean is well aware the baby likely isn't his and is the first to suggest marriage. It's also something of a Fourth-Date Marriage given that they've only known each other for a few weeks at most, which comes back to bite them when it's clear they have radically different expectations for the marriage.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Cindy is quite attractive and that has not helped her. First, her ex-boyfriend Bobby (with his friends) beat up Dean out of jealousy and her boss only gave her a promotion in an attempt to sleep with her.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • When Cindy and Bobby were together he was her college instructor.
    • Invoked by Cindy's boss who only gave her a promotion so they could be together instead of for her own experience and despite the fact he's aware that she's married.
  • Titled After the Song: Well, after the album. By Tom Waits.