A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this intense, moving drama about a young couple’s rocky relationship is fraught with moments that are both tender and true, with the truest being the most anguished. The complex, heavy material -- which includes abortion and hints of alcoholism -- will likely overwhelm most kids, except perhaps for the oldest of teenagers. Expect some sexual scenes with partial nudity (including one that originally earned the film an NC-17 rating, which was reduced to an R on appeal), swearing (including "f--k" and more), and drinking, as well as a number of forceful arguments.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Falling in and out of love is a puzzle that few can resist. In BLUE VALENTINE, in scenes laid out in non-linear order, viewers watch as a young couple, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling), first set their sights on each other and decide to build a life together ... and, later, watch that same life dismantle. It’s an age-old story: How do two people find each other in this wayward world, only to lose sight of each other even when they're under the same roof? As one of the characters says: How can you trust your feelings when they can disappear just like that?
Is it any good?
Blue Valentine has nearly everything a movie needs to be perfect. It's got great actors who live in their characters as if there’s no other place to be, a transfixing storyline, and a director so committed to his vision that he asked his actors to live together as a family during part of the shoot. There's nary a false note in the film; euphoric scenes feel euphoric, and painful scenes radiate pain. Sometimes it feels as if we’re in the same room as Cindy and Dean experience their most tender and terrible moments. One scene plucked from their first date is filled with so much of the giddy flush of falling in love that your heart can't help but ache at the anticipation of what lies ahead.
But if you believe that movies are expected to provide an escape, you're out of luck here. Blue Valentine may not be the film to see for married couples having troubles (or anyone close to such a couple) -- it’s much too real to offer respite. Then again, this may be one of the best films about a relationship’s trajectory, from infatuation to unraveling -- and what an experience it is to witness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about relationships. Does it seem realistic? Would you want a relationship like the one portrayed here? Parents, talk to your teens about your family's values concerning dating and relationships.
How does the relationship portrayed here compare to other movies about couples? Is it similar or different?
Why do you think the movie was originally rated NC-17? Why do you think it was changed to an R?
- In theaters: December 29, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: May 10, 2011
- Cast: Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, Ryan Gosling
- Director: Derek Cianfrance
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating
- Last updated: March 10, 2021
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