So, in the world of post-apocalyptic Valentine’s days, the big red balloons come down from shop windows, people stop complaining about being single and the love that was in the air is preserved in a tightly-sealed vacuum until next year. This may sound morose, but this is the only way I see it. I’ve even heard some people say they want to be with somebody, just to fill the gap of Valentine’s day – surely this diminishes the concept of love in relationships (and the idea of Valentine’s day in the first place) completely. It’s so numbing how the idea of ‘love’ seems to have become completely abolished universally, and is shown perfectly in the surprisingly realistic moving-picture adaptation of marriage and relationships in the film, Blue Valentine.
Blue Valentine depicts a true world, where we see the transition of two people, madly in love, switching to the present relationship that is slowly decaying over time. There are so many opportunities to pause the screen and say, ‘this has happened to me’ or, ‘I can remember seeing this happen to somebody I know’, and what makes it even worse is that you actually begin to slightly hate the female lead, Michelle Williams, who almost plays the stereotypical female role of a woman in a long-term relationship.
She does all the things women do without thinking in a relationship that almost purposefully turns her partner more and more away. She loses all the fun and love in her body, she puts all her efforts into her job as a doctor, meaning she views her loving husband as nothing more than an irritant. She finds faults in her husband’s lack of ambition and almost wants him to be just like her in that respect, but he is more willing to put his ambition on the back-burner so that he can concentrate on his family and the love that still pulsates through him for his wife. For all the probable flaws of the male lead (the not-so delicious Ryan Gosling with an aged receding hairline) he is not to blame for the breakdown of their relationship.
I think what women hope to find in a man is that he will age with her, and that he will soon have the same ambition and motivation that she has, but as we all know, men tend to preserve their youth moreso than women, and who’s to say that’s a bad thing? We’re too busy finding in ourselves reasons why it’s not working, when in fact we should look at the reasons why it worked in the first place, and why it’s not working now. Chances are that reason is not always him. Of course, I am only talking about a percentage of men as there are power-hungry workaholic men in relationships as well, but from what I’ve seen in the relationships around me, primarily my parents, this seems to be the most common case.
It’s so eye-opening when Gosling says, ‘I feel like men are more romantic than women, when we get married we marry, like, one girl; we’re resistant the whole way, until we meet one girl and we think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t marry this girl, she’s so great. But it seems like girls get to a place where they decide to pick the best options. I know girls that are like, Oh he’s got a good job, and they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming […]’
So what exactly is our Prince Charming, realistically? Is he really just that character designed for fairytales? Or did we have our Prince Charming all along, and we decide Wait a minute, this can’t be it; my search is over?
There’s a point in the film where Michelle Williams is young and reading a romance novel to her grandmother, she reads, ‘Her heart was beating so loudly that surely he could hear it, he smoothes her hair back, the touch of his fingers sending waves of awareness through her. He was going to kiss her; that is what she wanted, wasn’t it? So why did she feel as though she trembled on the edge of a precipice, ready to topple over in an instant? … There was a precipice and she was falling. Head over heels. Falling in love with him’. What you get to see when you watch the film – and what happens in real life – is that we will for that spontaneous moment of feeling ‘on the edge of a precipice’, we want to remake every happy memory, but we can’t. It’s impossible and pointless. All we can do is make new, even better, memories, and I think that’s where the romantic in us is lost.
Not every day is going to be our February 14th, that much is for sure, but when the Blue Valentine in us emerges we must realise that this is what love and its journey is all about, and running away from the mess we’ve made will always, regretfully, catch up with us.
Image courtesy of onlinemovieshut.com