66 drafts and a manifesto. 12 years in the making. Blue Valentine warms your heart and then freezes it over.
No doubt set to be one of the most important films of 2011, Blue Valentine is sky rocketing to independent cult status as one of the standout flicks at Sundance and Cannes, with Golden Globe nominations for both its leads, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. A film with heart about matters of the heart; the story tells of a married couple who have a daughter together and are struggling to cope with the domestic reality that has landed them so far from their young dreams. Filmed in two time periods, the script flits between memories of their early romance where the pair click in harmony and the coldness of their present where they seem to slide past each other. A brutally honest depiction of love at its most and least romantic, the film is intense and raw; at times completely beautiful and at others forces you to wince.
To celebrate the moment, we interviewed actor Ryan Gosling (tune in to the audio clip), and director Derek Cianfrance (interview below).
Where did the idea for the film come from? When I was a child, I had two nightmares – nuclear war and my parents’ divorce. When I was 20, they split up. It was such a confusing and bewildering time. I decided that I had to confront the things that scared me as a child so that I could be a better person.
The poster for the film says it’s a ‘love story’, is it? Yes. After my parents’ divorce, I kept looking around for something to make me feel better. I went to the movies and kept seeing the Romeo and Juliet version of the love tragedy, where two people at the peak of their love end up dying in each other’s arms and their love is preserved for all eternity. I looked around in my life and realised that I had never met anyone who had the good romantic fortune to die when everything was great, but I knew a bunch of people who suffered because of time. Time was the betrayer of their love. The erosive quality of time. I decided to make a love story that I could relate to. So yes, it is a love story – an honest one.
Why did the film take 12 years to make? Something in the universe wasn’t ready for the film. I certainly wasn’t ready to tell this story twelve years ago. Twelve years ago I wasn’t married and I didn’t have kids; I do now. I think I needed that life experience to be able to tell the story in the raw and realistic way I wanted to tell it. After twelve years of working on the script, 66 drafts, 1224 storyboards, a manifesto, watching the film in my head every day, I got really concerned that the film was going to be flat, stale, expected. So I asked my actors to break it and they did so, beautifully.
How difficult was it to walk away from this film? For so many years I have defined my life through this quest. I am still in the midst of it while on the publicity hamster wheel but when the wheel stops spinning, yes, I am concerned. Blue Valentine is my dream. It came true. What do you do when your dreams come true? Keep dreaming. Making the film was the greatest time of my life.
Parts of the film are very difficult to watch. Is this a film people should enjoy? What do you want your audiences to take away from it? I want people to have a relationship with the movie. It’s a living, breathing entity, like a person. It can fill you with joy and sorrow. It can inspire you and infuriate you. I want the film to instigate discussion; for people to come out of the theatre talking.
Blue Valentine is released 14 January 2011.