Immediately after seeing this movie I wandered around the parking lot looking for my car for what seemed like a half hour (but was probably only five). I actually got to the point where I was making a contingency plan for if my car had actually been stolen, I didn't have my phone, I was going to have to try and call Sean if there was a pay phone since his is the only phone number that I have memorized for some reason, walking home etc, etc. It isn't odd for me to have to do this at El Con, especially if the movie was decent. Also, when I was a kid our car got stolen from the Boulevard Twin while we were watching Casualties of War so I always think it's stolen when I can't find it. Then I found it right where I left it.
So, Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance's labor of love about the disintegration of love proved just as devastating as I'd read in other reviews. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were transfixing. Their drama felt real, at times too real, and the way the story was put together only intensified as it progressed. The juxtaposition of the beginning and the end of their relationship, the obvious high and low points, only made the peak and valley seem a greater distance apart. It will be impossible to see this movie and not relate it to your own past relationships. There is just too much truth in it. It also pretty much guarantees I will never see it again.
The controversy surrounding this movie, the initial NC-17 rating is ridiculous. The idea that this movie should receive that rating is beyond my comprehension. The scene in question, where Ryan Gosling's Dean wants to have sex and Michelle Williams' Cindy doesn't but consents initially before Dean backs off isn't particularly graphic. It is fraught with a lot of emotional turmoil but it's hardly the sort of scene that should garner an NC-17. In fact, I saw almost the exact same scene in season 2 of Mad Men when Joan's husband makes her have sex with him at her office.
I don't really know why they have an NC-17. Check out this list from wikipedia of movies that were, at least initially, rated NC-17. Some of the movies on the list I suppose are a step above most R rated movies. Base Moi or Salo I could see. But Irreversible isn't on the list and neither is Lars Von Trier's The Idiots. I agree with Roger Ebert, there are only two meaningful ratings, R and not R.
I highly recommend Blue Valentine but I recommend you see it by yourself. I love seeing movies alone but most people only do it once in awhile. There are some movies I want to see with other people and some I want to see by myself. A lot of the ones I see by myself either have very limited appeal or such wide appeal that I don't want anyone to know that I saw it in the theater. But with Blue Valentine I suggest you give it a try. Also, it felt like an argument starter, I saw a couple of couples walk out of it looking pretty glum.