I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out. The thing was depressing and I could not get into it. I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it. Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video. I’m glad that I did.
Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship. It brings back memories. Funny, they caught the things in the beginning that would go wrong later. Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight. The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you. You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster. In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew. I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work. At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.
The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too. There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster. She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning. The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu. The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy? What the hell, indeed.
There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them. However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy. I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in. Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it. Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that. I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway. One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.