Director Derek Cianfrance Talks About ‘Blue Valentine’
"I think I have an allergy to fake moments on a
movie screen," said Derek Cianfrance, director of the Oscar-nominated
movie "Blue Valentine."
The movie, which details the heady early days of a
relationship between two blue-collar 20-somethings, intercut with moments from
its painful dissolution, feels unnervingly, exhilaratingly real. Few films have
captured the subtle grace notes of falling in love and the ugly ambiguities of
This isn't by accident. The movie was a passion project
for Cianfrance and he went to some extreme lengths to get on-screen cinematic
moments that didn't feel fake. That included having leads Michelle Williams and
Ryan Gosling live in their on-screen house during a month-long production
hiatus. During that time, they did all the mundane domestic activities a real
couple might do: wash dishes, prepare a household budget, buy groceries, and
even do the Jane Fonda workout together. And this was all before the camera
started to roll.
The resulting performances have been earning some serious
critical raves. Michelle Williams received an Oscar nomination for Best
Actress. Why Gosling was overlooked can only be chalked up the same opaque
logic the Academy used to give "Dances With Wolves" the Best Picture
Oscar over "Goodfellas."
I recently had a chance to interview Cianfrance. In spite
of the fact that it was late and his voice was shot after a long day of
interviews, he was more than eager to talk about his movie, his actors, and his
Yahoo Movies: I must confess I was resisting seeing this
movie because I got married. I felt like it might be a bit of a buzz-kill. But
it really wasn't. It got us really talking...
Derek Cianfrance: And I really love hearing that from you. I
think a lot has been made of about how this is the 'anti-date' movie. I don't
think people should be scared of the movie.
I made the film that didn't necessarily have a message,
or a bunch of answers. It's trying to instigate — instigate dialogue. "Blue
Valentine" was made as a question. What's happened in the last year since it's
been traveling around the world and now playing in theaters is that people talk
afterwards. It starts a communication. I think that's a healthy thing. It's a
healthy movie for people to see in a relationship. If it can get you talking,
then that's a great thing.
YM: How did this project start and how did it evolve?
DC: When I was a kid, I had two nightmares. One was
nuclear war and the other was that my parents would get a divorce. When I was 20,
they split up and it was such a confusing and bewildering time for me that I
decided that I needed to confront it with a piece of work. So I started writing
"Blue Valentine" in 1998 with the intent of getting it done three months later.
And it was just this elusive project for me. I took the rejections that came my
way, the false starts, as an opportunity to make this film better. I worked
with two different co-writers over those 12 years. I wrote over 66 drafts.
Well, I stopped counting at 66.
I felt like that time was kind of a curse. But when I
started shooting the film, I really felt like it was a blessing because I
wasn't ready to make the film 12 years ago. I was ready to make it when I made