BLUE VALENTINE: A Viewing Journal

[Continuing our celebration of student trailer readings and the end of the quarter!]

Blue Valentine
is about a young couple falling in love and then having their love weighed down and eventually destroyed by parenting, the stagnancy of being married, and the struggles of life in general.

The trailer begins wih the back and forth, puppy-love-inspired banter of the film’s lead actors, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Before any characters of settings are shown, extra-diegetic appeals are made to the audience. Graphic cards indicate the film’s official selection by the Cannes, Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals.

At about the :30 mark, we finally see the leads, who stand in the doorway of a wedding store, singing and dancing for each other. The viewer will immediately notice that the camera shakes, as if held by hand, documentary style. Obviously, this is an intimate character study, not a big-budget spectacle.

Once Ryan Gosling’s character begins to sing, you realize that the lyrics describe the relationship that the movie details: “You always hurt the ones you love,” he croons while strumming a ukelele.

At the close of these lyrics, the trailer cuts to a montage presenting what appears to be the chronology of their relationship: they meet; they make love; they fall in love and they marry. But once Gosling reaches the lyrics, “you always take the sweetest rose and crush it until the petals fall,” the montage is no longer so sweet. In quick-cut, back-to-back scenes of tears and anguish from both characters, the audience sees that happiness will not characterize this relationship.

At the 1:15 mark, the glimpse into the married lives of our unhappy couple comes to an abrupt end, and the viewer is returned to the opening scene of the Gosling and Williams singing and dancing for each other in front of the wedding shop, perhaps the happiest and most appealing moment from the film.

In its final movement, the trailer returns to extra-diegetic appeals, drawing on the star power of and critical acclaim earned by its protagonists: “Academy Award Nominee” Ryan Gosling and “Academy Award Nominee” Michelle Williams, the copy advertises.

Following the cast run, the title appears (in large font) and the trailer concludes with Gosling finishing his “goofy” love song, with the young, hopeful lovers high-fiving each other, innocently and childishly, a diplay, yet again of what is most likely to draw ticket buyers into the theater.

Jennifer Ihegword is an MBA candidate (2013) in the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.]

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movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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