Movie Reviews: Blue Valentine and The King’s Speech

Movie – Blue Valentine

Director: Derek Cianfrance (Brother Tied)

Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne, and Joey Curtis

Starring: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, Halloween H20) and Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, Remember the Titans)

Theater – AMC Southdale 16 – Edina, Minnesota

Companion – Jill

Food – Ruby Tuesday

Intellectual Honesty

I don’t think I have anything to disclose. I like Ryan Gosling, after I forgave him for The Notebook, but I’m not a huge fan. I like Michelle Williams, but I’m not a huge fan.


I don’t think I brought any with me. This is essentially the director’s first movie. There aren’t any actors in the movie that I dislike.

Synopsis from IMDB

The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.


For starters, I’m disappointed that the IMDB could only spit out that pathetic synopsis. I am terrible at writing plot summaries, but I’ll give it a shot:

The movie follows the beginning of the relationship of Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams) and the end of their relationship in a nonlinear timeline. Beginning when Dean spots Cindy at a nursing home while working a moving job and ultimately finishing when they get away for a romantic weekend at a room themed motel.

I have admittedly struggled with processing this movie. I’d like to think that is pretty rare for me. I think I struggled with this movie because it took me so long to figure out who was the “bad guy” in the movie and that statement isn’t even accurate. Like in real life, when a relationship goes sour, it isn’t one person’s fault, but it is usually more one person’s fault than the other. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that Dean was more to blame than Cindy. That is because at the beginning of the relationship, Cindy might have been using Dean more than loving Dean.

I think part of this is because I was stuck on thinking that the following line uttered by Dean to a co-worker was supposed to be the essence of the movie:

I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like, one girl, ’cause 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 just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and is gonna stick around.

It isn’t the essence of the movie though. It is the essence of the beginning of their relationship.

Cindy doesn’t respond to Dean’s advances at first. Then when her boyfriend gets her pregnant by messing up their birth control “system”, she leaves him and finally Dean wears her down with his persistence and his cute little song.

When he finds out she is pregnant he goes with her to have the abortion. When she backs out of the abortion he marries her and raises the child as his own.

The film shows the beginning of the relationship where Dean is extremely caring and loving. The film shows the end of the relationship where Dean has descended into alcoholism and he has become increasingly controlling. My main complaint with the movie is that we never really get to see the middle. What turned Dean from the charismatic likable guy at the beginning of the movie to the shell of a man he is at the end?

I guess the truth could be that he never really changes. Perhaps it is only our perception and Cindy’s perception of him that changes. This is a movie that is definitely worthy of a 2nd look and it needs more thinking about.

The performances by Williams and Gosling are both brilliant. Williams is very deserving of her Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a woman unsure about what to do about her relationship. I hope she wins the award, even though I’m sure Natalie Portman is a lock for Black Swan. I would have liked to have seen Gosling nominated instead of Jeff Bridges for True Grit, but I’m guessing that he might have missed out on the nomination because there are similarities to this character and his Oscar nominated performance in Half Nelson.

3.5/5.0 Caramels

Buy on DVD
I’m slightly leaning towards buying it.

2010 Ranking
After viewing it, I’m ranking it number 10. Although like Black Swan, its stock could raise the more I dwell on this movie.

Bonus Information
If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend the Flixster app if you like movies at all. Earlier in the week Jill and I had discussed seeing How Do You Know, but she couldn’t find it playing anywhere in the Twin Cities. With this app, I was able to find that it was indeed playing at 1 movie theater in Apple Valley. Jill worried that this was too far from Oakdale, but with this app we were able to look at every movie that was playing with in a 50 mile radius and we found Blue Valentine. A movie she wanted to see, but didn’t even realize it was out yet.

On the slightly negative side, I wasn’t able to find an app that was very effective in finding a restaurant in the area. So we ended up at Ruby Tuesday. That kind of violates my rules against eating at corporate restaurants, but I’ve never eaten at a Ruby Tuesday before, so it worked out. Although, my burger was tasty, Jill had an unfortunate experience with a salad.

Worry not good people, for it has already been decided that next time we will be eating at Fat Lorenzo’s. I also found a decent restaurant finding app, for other circumstances, but that is a secret since Jill has falsely accused me of being obsessed with my phone.

Movie – The King’s Speech

Director: Tom Hooper (The Damn United, John Adams)

Writer: David Seidler (Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Quest for Camelot)

Starring: Colin Firth (The English Patient, Love Actually, Pride and Prejudice), Geoffrey Rush (Shine, Shakespeare in Love, Les Miserables), and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club, Sweeney Todd, Hamlet)

Theater – Fleur Cinema – Des Moines, Iowa

Companion – Nader

Food – Ted’s Coney Island

Intellectual Honesty

I do love Helena Bonham Carter. I don’t know many actresses that play her range of completely psychotic chick to future Queen of England (not that underneath everything the Queen of England probably isn’t a completely psychotic chick) so effortlessly. I always consider it a good sign when there is only 1 writer listed in the credits. The less writers the better. Even if their most recent screen credit was something called Kung Fu Killer.


I don’t like royalty in real life. I don’t like royalty in the cinema. If you have to have royalty, my favorite kind is with their head on a pike be carried by an angry mob. I don’t respect countries that have royalty. I particularly don’t respect countries that have royalty that only have ceremonial duties.

I was pretty sure that Colin Firth’s performance was overhyped.

Synopsis from IMDB

Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George (‘Bertie’) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.


First things first. The accolades for Colin Firth’s performance as a man struggling to deal with a speech impediment are well deserved. I have no doubt that he will walk away with the Oscar and deserve it.

Nearly as great is Rush’s performance as the eccentric speech therapist that help the future King of England work through his stammering and his childhood traumas. He won’t get the Oscar because Christian Bale will deservedly walk away with that trophy, but Rush certainly deserves his nomination.

Helena Bonham Carter as Bertie’s wife, but I don’t know if there is anything particularly spectacular in her performance.

As far as movie royals go, these royals are tolerable. Yes, the movie would have been improved if at the end a mob of angry peasant would have broken in and cut off Bertie’s head and paraded it around the streets of London, but it wouldn’t have been historically accurate and I’m not sure it would have helped them fight the Nazis.

Perhaps that is where I struggle most with this movie. Bertie and Lionel are fascinating characters, but I don’t really think that if Bertie would have struggled through his big speech, the Nazis would have defeated England. At the end of the day he is still a figurehead.

Another thing that troubled me with the movie was the demonization of Wallis Simpson. I understand that she wasn’t the greatest human being in the world. She was definitely a Nazi sympathizer and a racist. There is even some evidence that she might have leaked information to the Nazis as well.

However, in this movie her greatest crime seems to be that she is American and even worse, a commoner. The movie has no sympathy for Guy Pearce’s King Edward VIII and his decision to give up the throne for the woman he loves. On more than one occasion the film suggest that the more correct course of action would have been just to use the woman he loved as a mistress rather than have her as a wife.

When he abdicates his throne to be with her, it is seen as an act of cowardice rather than love.

Particularly annoying is when Carter’s Elizabeth is upset that she is received by a commoner rather than the King. It would have been the perfect time for a mob of angry peasants screaming “Off with their heads!” to have broken into the room.

My personal problems with the conflicts in the movie aside, this movie is really well done and it is one of the best movies of the year. It is particularly great in the scenes with just Bertie and Lionel.

My only other real complaint is Timothy Spall’s portrayal of Winston Churchill. He comes off more like the Batman villain Penguin than Winston Churchill. It is very distracting.

4.0/5.0 Caramels

Buy on DVD
Not likely, unless there is an alternate ending with… well you know what I want to see!

2010 Ranking

Bonus Information
It was exciting to introduce Nader to the greatness of Ted’s Coney Island. On the way home, we listened to true royalty: Elvis Presley.

Up Next
Looks like 127 Hours is next in the hopper.

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