Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine
seen @ Lincoln Plaza Cinema, New York NY

It begins when we're very young, when we're sold on the idea of True Love and
that there's Someone Special Out There for everyone. Girls especially are susceptible to this idea, but boys can fall for it just as easily.

We get a little older and we begin to become sexually aware, and we fool around a bit, more concerned with having a good time than with Getting Serious. If we find someone special - though it may not necessarily be that Someone Special - suddenly we rearrange our lives a little bit to accommodate tha
t person. Maybe we see our old friends a little less. Maybe we go out of our way to do things for that person, like buying gifts or going certain places.

At some point we're led to believe that this person either is The One or not. I say "led to believe" because sometimes it's not as obvious a
s it may seem, but we choose to believe it anyway for any number of reasons... but let's say it is. Perhaps this relationship is consummated (if it hasn't been already). Pledges of eternal devotion are no doubt exchanged, and a long-term commitment to each other is made.

Then what?

What we tend to forget amidst all the hearts and flowers is that finding love and keeping it are two different things. I'm not as cynical as to think True Love doesn't exist, because I've experienced it, but the fairy tales about it that we're told as kids never mention what happens after Happily Ever After. A romantic relationship with someone is hard enough to maintain, never mind a lifetime commitment, but a lot of people engage in the latter thinking it'll just be an extension of the former. They shouldn't be in such a rush...

...yet society tells them they have to. Vija has been in at least two long-term relationships in her life without feeling the need to get married (so far), and in
a way, I can't help but admire her for that. She's always struck me as a woman who values her freedom, and while it doesn't mean that she has loved the men in her life any less for it, I believe in the long run such an attitude has likely saved her a lot more hassle. I think it takes a fair amount of strength to resist taking that Big Step and not have it compromise your happiness, particularly later in life.

Of course, if you can make a long-term relationship work, you've beaten the odds. Bibi and Eric might be the happiest couple I know in spite of the obstacles thrown at them. I think a big reason why is that they go to great lengths to keep the fun in their marriage and in their lives. I know other couples like that, but Bibi and Eric have been together longer than I've known them - over a decade - and I know them well enough to be able to
say that they've seen hard times and come through them closer than ever. That's admirable too.

I believed in True Love, and once upon a time I had it: a girl who was as utterly devoted to me as I was to her, a girl I might have married myself... but I blew it. I don't hold out much hope that I'll be that lucky again, and I try not to think about that, but when it seems like all my friends are pairing up now, it's difficult not to think about it. Then again, like I said, finding love and keeping it are indeed two different things.

Blue Valentine offers no simple, pat explanatio
ns as to why the main characters' marriage fails. It doesn't judge, either. It's frustrating to watch, because you want to be able to point to something and say, "This is where it all fell apart," but it's not that easy, especially when it's possible that they may not have been as right for each other as they seemed at first. It's sad... but it's entirely believable as well.

Yesterday was my first trip into Manhattan since the snowstorm. The sidewalks were much clearer, of course. No real problems with the trains, and I actually got to ride the bus again (although I still had a long wait for it, since they were still plowing my street and traffic was backed up). I saw Blue Valentine at the Lincoln Plaza, where a large bucket of popcorn is only $4.50! They also have gourmet chocolate bars for sale, which I thought about getting. Maybe the next time I'm there, I'll do so. Yesterday was opening day and my showing was a near-sellout. One dude in front of me on line said he came down from Connecticut to see this movie. I was tempted to wait for a later show, where director Derek Cianfrance was going to appear for a Q-and-A, but I wanted to get home early.


  1. This punishing drama is worth a look thanks to the excellent work by the leads as well as Cianfrance's ability to employ the appropriate mood to help capture his own prickly scenes from a marriage.

  2. Now if only they could get some Oscar nods...


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