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Blue Valentine: Why I prefer thrillers

Wednesday 19th January, white roofs, frosty gardens, Venus bright and high at 7am. After a lengthy interval of heavy rain, mist and cloud, the cold has returned for a while.

Suckered into going to see Blue Valentine at The Duke's last night, because Michelle Williams was so good in Winter's Bone, and by accidental viewing of a tv movie "critic" programme, (not really, more just advertising). The gushing critical acclaim already online for this "painful, exquisite" movie raises a wry shake of the head. I have the perceptions of a different generation, a different social consciousness: I saw no bittersweet romance . . I thought Blue Valentine was pretty good.This is exactly how it happens. The lost dog, the cruel loss of the animal-person who was secretly holding a very shaky situation together, precipitates crisis. Long ago, when they were young, a clever girl from a poor background, in a routinely abusive family situation, sadly bereft of emotional support, was touched by the inventive, hollow routines of a self-centred emotional parasite (yes! It's Woody Allen come again!): she turned to him in her trouble, and he, intoxicated by his own make-believe, made the grand gesture. Now they're older, they've become themselves, as an adult the hollow man is unendurable: there's a wonderful little girl, but it's all going to hell.

Michelle Williams was terrific. Maybe her part in the two-hander was just easier, but for me it was a shame that her partner, played by Ryan Gosling, came over as terminally dislikeable, and for me almost unwatchable (which is different and much worse). On that modern world scale of snog, marry, avoid, the winsome "Dean" belongs, from the start, at the "run away screaming" end of the spectrum. Young girls are gullible, it's okay that "Cindy" fell for him. It's just what she would do, especially considering Dean's rival for her affections is a violent bully like her Dad. It would have been masses better if "Dean" had won my sympathy.

I don't like movies that set out to be soft-centred, I like grit. But I prefer gritty thrillers. In a thriller, if you don't get on with the human drama, there's always the story. In a human drama, if you don't like the people, it's no fun at all trying to guess what's going to happen.


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