Blue Valentine is a film less about love and more about how fleeting life is, and the film does right in reminding us of this, through the creeping of age, the inevitability of death, the offering of flowers that will surely wither, and love here one moment, then gone.
The film shifts back and forth from the recent past to the present. In the past we see two people overwhelmed, their faces pink and smiling, completely unaware of the world constantly falling apart all around them; they are lost in each other. Neither one of them possesses any assured direction, but their eyes are full of life and exploration. In the present, we see that age has tightened its grip on the two lovers, their faces tired, and the spark now dampened. Dean (Ryan Gosling) seems to violently flail at the past, desperately trying to revive what has long since died. He constantly tries to convince himself that he is exactly who he wants to be, and nothing has changed but his hairline. He is a little boy lost, doing his best to hide his tears from strangers.
Cindy (Michelle Williams) has found a gray reality that she wishes not to face. She longs to hide her head until her dreary days pass. Both characters had seen first hand the temporary nature of life, but only she seems aware of it, and in her youthful hope and optimism she chose to ignore these truths. In Dean, she seemed certain that she had found a fairytale of endless color and life. Her heart is broken when she discovers that their love is vulnerable to decay, like everything else.
It is a simple depiction of life’s endless movements. It is at times graceful and beautiful, and other times clumsy and ugly, and it can change our entire emotional landscape from one moment to the next.
– James Merolla