Director: Derek Cianfrance
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn
Runtime: 140 minutes
Release Date: 9th May 2013
Reviewed by The Mole[s]
MO: What an unbelievably bleak film? This is why I am still yet to see Blue Valentine, I know what I’m in for and I just can’t put myself through it. Although to be honest, I thought this was going to be more violent than it was but that could just be because I kept getting this and Only God Forgives mixed up…
LE: See, I thought it was bleak, but then I left the cinema feeling remarkably non-devastated. I thought it would tear me apart, but it didn’t. Was it because it was so long? I feel like it could have been a better film with a tighter screenplay/editing. All I know is that halfway through the second act (and then several times after that) I got the urge to check the time, and that definitely means I’m not truly engaged in the story.
MO: I know what you mean, the length was not justified, the second act and the ending were really weak, I wanted some big revelation, instead it just felt like a resetting of the pieces.
LE: And the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. What was the point of the Ray Liotta arc? WHY WAS IT IN THERE?! And you made a really good point when you mentioned post-screening that perhaps too much time was spent with Gos.
MO: I hate to admit it, I mean everybody loves the Gos who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible with him but if you want to cover two generations you have to make some hard and fast cuts. I probably would have preferred the first act expanded on and made into a whole film, you could still have spent some time with the sons and maybe had a stronger message at the end.
LE: I know, girls complaining about too much time with Gos? Who would have thought?
Aside from the issues with the length, I also found the score annoying at times. Don’t get me wrong - I think Patton is an exceptionally talented musician, but I found it SO OBTRUSIVE during certain scenes. Sometimes, moments can be just as poignant (even more so) without music. It felt like Cianfrance was like “well, I’ve got Patton, so I want his music WITH EVERYTHING”. It would probably be great to listen to on its own, and during certain scenes it was perfect, but other times it was just too much.
MO: It didn’t bother me, that riding through the pines song was so perfectly eerie that everything else passed me by. I did keep thinking throughout though, am I missing some vital connection with this film because I’m not a man, is the whole father/son dynamic just lost on me? Did you feel that?
LE: I do believe that women were not well served in the film, but I don’t think it was necessarily the father/son connection we were missing, as I didn’t really relate to Blue Valentine either. Maybe it’s just Cianfrance’s writing/directional style? Just not for us? A third feature will be the decider!
MO: It’s frustrating, I was so engrossed during the first half, I thought that opening scene when you follow the Gos (and his tats!?!) to the arena and he’s smoking and he’s got his red leather jacket on and riding in that sphere - it was brutally intense! Then it just slowly dwindled downhill.
LE: I thought that sequence and the Ben Mendelsohn/Gos relationship was quite special. It was only after the Bradley Cooper story began that I started to lose interest. And this is not to take away from Cooper’s acting - I thought he was great. In fact, everyone was great (with the exception of Mendes, she was a bit of a weak link). It was the character - no real redeeming qualities at all - I just couldn’t relate.
MO: Her character was really sad and not even in a beautifully, cinematic tragic way, just plain, boring run of the mill sad. I think Mendelsohn deserves some kind of award for being Australia’s biggest creep.
LE: Hahahaha, I’ve always had a soft spot for him (does this mean that I’m a creep by default?)
I’m so frustrated! What is it with this film? Are the characters too “real” for us? Or are they two-dimensional and underdeveloped? Is the story original or is it cliched? It’s infuriating, because parts of the film were so melancholy and tragic and beautiful and well-shot, and I really want to love it, but I can’t, I JUST CAN’T. Ok film. Needs work. I can’t think about it anymore. 2.5 choc tops.
MO: It was really close to being something great but I don’t want to sit on my ass for 2 1/2 hours to learn that how matter how much we rebel, in the end we all just become our fathers. 2.5 from me too.