“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
~ James Gray
By Noah Forrest Forrest@moviecitynews.com
It’s not what I wanted it to be…
Last night I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about Blue Valentine. She wasn’t a fan of the film because she wanted it to be more than it was. She was disappointed by the fact that the storyline isn’t particularly original or mining new material. Basically, she wanted to experience something new in the pantheon of dramas about the dissolution of a relationship.
I both agreed and disagreed. Part of me wishes that it wasn’t just a film about a typical, uneducated, blue-collar couple that are – from the get-go – not destined to be in a happy relationship. What I’ve longed to see for years and years – and which fiction, film, theater, etc. have never been able to pull off – is a realistic portrait of how a happy relationship comes apart. In stories of this nature depicted in fiction, like Blue Valentine or Revolutionary Road or Carnal Knowledge, it’s pretty clear that because of the characters involved and their different personality traits that these couplings are not going to last. I think it’s fairly easy to take disparate characters and jam them together just because they’re attractive or because one of them is pregnant and then show the ramifications later on. I suppose this is the reality for a lot of people that wind up with partners they don’t stay with, but I think a large portion of relationships die for more complex reasons than that. And those deaths aren’t usually the result of one big thing or several big things, but rather a slow disintegration of passion and love. Blue Valentine, as much as I really enjoyed it, does the typical move: it shows us the beginning and the end. But as anyone who has ever been in a relationship, the real meat is in the middle.
However, that’s not what Blue Valentine purports to be about. It sets out to do something specific and does it, so does that mean I should critique it for what I wanted it to be and wasn’t? However, that’s a slippery slope as a film critic because then I could just apply that same logic to a film like Transformers and say that it’s a good film because it does exactly what it sets out to do.
So I think ultimately, we have to take into account what we want a film to be. A film like Blue Valentine hits us hardest when we find ourselves relating to the characters. The scene in the Future Room is a masterpiece because practically everyone I know can relate to one or both of those characters in that scene at one point in their life. But, as a whole, I find it hard to relate to either character because they make decisions that I wouldn’t make and do a lot of stupid things, which is excused by the fact that they’re not particularly well-educated. For once, I would like to see a film about well-educated people who make the right decisions in their lives and it still doesn’t work out.
So, who’s gonna be the filmmaker to volunteer for that job?