I respect a lot the honesty of Blue Valentine, what I can’t love is the super-pessimistic attitude of the story. I know it’s meant to be hard to watch, and for what it’s set up to be: it succeeds. It’s a well directed film, but I really wouldn’t wanna see it again; however, you always hurt the one you love will make indie film history.
Michelle plays Cindy, a character that we discover in two different situations: she’s a young woman, romantic and fun and in love, with dreams and desires; and then, 5-6 years later, she’s a mother, a wife, trying to balance her job as a nurse with the nervousness of her home environment and her feeling that she’s lost any love for her husband, Dean. For Michelle, for most of the time it’s like playing two different characters in the same film, but she’s good enough at it that we can understand the transitions of Cindy from lively to angry and frustrated.
I need to come up front and say it: Cindy was not my favorite character and for a big part of the conflict, I was more on Dean’s side. And while I wasn’t always a fan of the character, I also think that Michelle knew when to make Cindy likeable and charming, and she was perfectly in control of the character when she decided to turn her into a bitch. Cindy is a complicated character because, while I saw her as the one to blame the most for the failing marriage, I also understood her involuntary disliking of Dean and the fact that from where she’s sitting, she’s a victim, and someone who shouldn’t be blamed for wanting more in life.
I was able to understand all this because Michelle is very good at what she’s doing; also, knowing about the filming process of Blue, this is a natural, sometimes-improvised performance done very well. She’s always in character, she’s always believable and, considering the camera is always on their faces, every gesture of hers seems justified and meaningful in the construction of the character.
The young Cindy is adorable and relatable, and she’s so damn pretty and charming. I believed in the joyful side of the young years and I recognized that optimism, the hope that young people have. In the older Cindy, Michelle brings the passive-aggressiveness, that quiet anger displayed especially in the first scenes. I understood her acting choices, it made me uncomfortable, but it just went on to prove Michelle’s great understanding of the character.
But there’s still a bit of something holding me back with this performance, for example: I’m not able to point my favorite scene of hers – which could mean that I liked her all around (partly true) or that I just didn’t love the character enough to really care what was happening to it… I don’t know: there are a lot of good moments, and it seems like the perfect performance, but it might be just the lack of a wow factor combined with my hostility towards her character that makes me give her a , and not the highest rating, even though I’m not sure what she should’ve done differently. Very good performance.