For me it was hard to watch. So many things seemed like deja vu, from my old relationship. There was quite a bit of squirming in my seat, as moments from the past came flooding back. I guess that's the idea of movies such as this. To see ourselves, or people we know in the characters. So why see something distressing? I had read a great interview with the Director, and this quote in particular made me drawn to the film: "Everyone's to blame and everyone's innocent; there are no simple definitions. Life isn't full of heroes and villains; life is full of complicated, contradictory people. And I thought I would make a film that was more like life. That would provoke people and then you tell me what happened."
It's hard to explain how this sentiment resonated with me. I guess it's because I felt like the villain for ending the relationship, but life is so much more complicated than that. The movie offers no suggestions as to how the couple (Cindy and Dean) go from falling in love to being on the verge of breaking up. Both characters change; she more assured and driven, he more childish and petulant. There is a telling conversation about 'potential' and in essence I think this is one of the key factors to the breakdown. What happens when one partner is happy where they are, and the other wants challenges, experiences and more from life?
On a similar theme Peter and I also watched the Joy Division documentary by Grant Gee. Looking at the factors contributing to Ian Curtis committing suicide, you have to think that being torn between your wife and child, and your girlfriend played its part. The movie Control shows beautifully how you can want a small town life, but find that perhaps it's not enough.
I guess problems occur when people enter a relationship because they love each other, but ultimately find that love alone is not enough to sustain them. I have always believed (along with the Beatles) that All you need is love, but I guess maybe there needs to be healthy doses of patience, understanding, honesty, communication, growth, aspirations, challenges, support AND love. I've said before that love is simple. Love is easy. Relationships are the hard bit. Sometimes love alone isn't enough, and I think sometimes people fall in love and then stop trying in a relationship. They just expect it to run along happily and stay on course. Cindy's Grandmother has one of the most crushing lines in the film. When discussing her marriage with her grand-daughter she reveals that she never really loved her husband: "he didn't really have any regard for me as a person". In years gone by (hell, in my own parents relationship), you just stayed in the marriage, regardless of how unhappy you are.
Relationships go off the rails for any number of reasons, and we can all speculate how the characters in Blue Valentine end up so far from where they began. I have my thoughts, because it seemed so achingly real to my own experience. It still makes my stomach flip to think of some scenes, as I'm transported back to the dark old days. But there are two things I have to remember: 1, no one is the villain; and 2, that love isn't always enough. To go the distance, Peter and I will need to grow together, to face challenges head on as a team, be supportive, always talk about things and yes...love each other.