Spoiler warning.

BLUE VALENTINE (2010) (for the original post in its photo glory)


by Chad P.

Essentially, we’re hard-wired to root for love. We want relationships to work out, onscreen and off. We want to believe couples make it, because we want to make it, too.

We want to meet cute. We want to fall, head over heels. We want to write songs and have songs written about us.

We want things to work out. We want to love and be loved. We want happily ever after, or at least to believe that it exists.

Which is why a film like Blue Valentine is so tough to watch.  Hollywood, long complicit in the fueling of many millions of happily-ever-after dreams, here slaps us in our collective face: it gives us the whole story. The beginning and the end (and all the highs and lows in between).  It’s draining.  It’s painful. It’s one of the finest relationship movies I’ve ever seen. Not because relationships are awful – some are, some aren’t – but rather because they are such hard work.  And so rarely do we get to see all that hard work – the truly messy and complicated rollercoaster of a living, breathing relationship – onscreen.

The toll that a life takes. Together or alone. The way the years add up to a point where some days they outnumber the reasons to stay. The way keeping a family together takes everything you’ve got, but how you still have to find a way to somehow give even more. The way cute becomes cloying, lust wears itself out, and spontaneity gives way to endless routine. And that silly, stubborn part of you that refuses to let go.

Blue Valentine traces the flow of a particular relationship, showing you it’s bright flickering beginnings and it’s sad, hollowed-out, gut-punch ending.  It follows Dean and Cindy’s courtship and conclusion in non-linear fashion – sublime scenes of the honeymoon-lit first moments of a new relationship, alternating with the burdensome and claustrophobically sad scenes from that same relationship’s final days – and by doing so highlights the painful inevitability of so many of these relationship dances we all do with the partners that, in the end, are just not quite right for us, no matter how close to right they manage to be for a time, no matter how promising the relationship’s beginning. It’s a seduction and a warning all at once, doing for love what Trainspotting did for heroin: how magical and soaring that first high, how crashing and destructive the end result.

We are all trying to recapture that magic in some way.  It’s a magic that moves mountains, creates art, and starts wars, a magic that allows us to go on, both (literally) helping to create new life and also making it something worth living. At its best, it’s a feeling of everything finally working out. An integration. A completion.

And to lose that – to have it and know it and then to lose it – that takes something awful out of us.  We are never quite the same.  We recover, we go on, we heal, but we remember. We beat ourselves up with what-ifs and should-haves, trying to pin down the moment where it all went wrong, as if such a singular moment existed. We regret being so vulnerable, putting ourselves out there, and we wonder if it’s ever worth risking ourselves, our hearts, again.  (It is.)

It wears us out, love.  It wears us out.

Not to copy out your whole article Chad, you’re good, and I wanna keep this in my memory.