Blue Valentine - what/where was the marital conflict?

We just watched this movie. The marriage fell apart as if there had been tons of conflict and difficulties. We only saw the ex-boyfriend show up and cause some degree of internal conflict for the wife. Maybe that was behind her lack of interest or enthusiasm for the Future Room at the sexy motel. But, we never saw excessive drinking or arguing or anything. Then, suddenly, they’re on the extreme outs - big deal at the doctor’s office, etc. What did we miss?

It seems to me she was never really in love with him but married him out of desperation. He was a nice guy with good intentions but no real drive or ambition to be anything but a husband and father(not that there’s neccessarily anything wrong with that but she apparently wanted more). The whole point of the movie was to ask the question " what makes love disappear and where does it go"? I understood her point but my dislike of Michelle Williams and the overall downer character really impaired my ability to feel sympathy for her.

That may be so. But the husband was a very good character, very decent, and clearly in love with her. Then, suddenly, it’s as if they’ve had a lifetime of grief and discord. It confused me and seemed to come out of left field.

I think WOOKINPANUB nailed it. It’s the banality of their married life that killed the love. Personally, I don’t think that relationships die from big blowups, they die from a thousand paper cuts, so to speak.

I watched with my wife and she commented afterwards how sad of a movie it was, because it was so realistic. Maybe that doesn’t bode well for me! :slight_smile:

Jeez, my wife said the same thing… that it was so true to life. Egad - are we next?

I wouldn’t even watch it with my boyfriend, having had an idea what it’s about. Not to say that we’re in the same situation, but the economy has brought on some hard times and I could see him wondering and worrying if I was feeling the way the wife did. Holy crap what a bummer that movie is. Great performance by Ryan Gosling though.

Mr. GilaB and I watched it last week, and I commented to him that it’s like a horror movie for married people.

The movie leaves out the thousand paper cuts of married life, but she was frustrated with him for lacking all ambition, plus he never seems to take much responsibility or help out much around the house. She gets distant and pissed off over all of this, pushing him away.

Suppose there had been no pregnancy.

Now, given what you know of the two characters, are they two people YOU would have fixed up together? Knowing that she’s a driven young woman who wants to become a doctor and he’s a very nice but lazy, unambitious, unmotivated blue collar guy?

It’s easy enough to see why he’d form a crush on her. but it’s impossible to see her marrying a guy like him if she weren’t in a desperate situation.

Well, time goes by… and she starts to feel like the only grown-up in the house.

No doubt that they’re different. I was just struck by the fact that when the marriage falls apart and she says she “can’t do it any more,” that we haven’t really seen anything that has caused her such grief. Most of the time they spent together - until they have their night at the motel - is pretty good, or at least satisfying. He’s a committed and caring husband and father up to that point. That’s why he can’t just screw her when they’re at the motel. He wants something more, not just sex. That’s not the typical boorish husband. Which is why we were so caught off guard by the abrupt change in the status of their relationship.

This. It’s not one big argument that sinks a marriage. It’s a lot of little moments of discord and emotions and broken dreams and dissatisfaction that pile up over the course of yours. Seeing her boyfriend in the liquor store (and to an extent the dog dying just before that) was just sort of the spark that set it all off.

Anyway as a side note, does anyone know how Ryan Gosling got from the motel to the doctor’s office after Michele Williams took the car to go to work? The DVD I got from Netflix crapped out right after he got his wake-up call and skipped ahead about three or four minutes to where they were having the fight in the doctor’s office. I seem to recall a line about the motel being a couple of hours from where they lived. So it’s not like he would just be able to take a cab (assuming that the motel really is far away and I’m not misremembering, of course).

We see him in a bus station right before that.

It’s a marriage based on an inherently unstable foundation. In describing it - girl gets pregnant with douchebag ex, leaves him, meets someone new, tries to make it work even though he’s immature and flaky - it’s not surprising it falls apart. Gosling’s character think he’s a good guy, since he raises a kid that’s not his own and works (enough anyway) to contribute to the household and loves his wife. I would disagree with WOOKINAPUB that he wanted to be a husband or father - I think he was willing to do those things, but had no desire to actually fulfill those roles in any way. She’s working a more stable job, she’s having to be the stricter parent, she feels like she’s dealing with two children.
Following astorian’s post, if these people existed in real life and there was no pregnancy, I’d expect them to have an adoring and adorable courtship, a short passionate relationship, and a supernova of a break up where she accuses him of having no ambition and no drive. She’d be the one that got away for him and he’d be the one she couldn’t fix for her.

Interesting. You could be right but I got the sense that he was fulfilled by that role and didn’t want much else. I think he actually *said *that, no? Not that that couldn’t just be something he said to excuse his lack of ambition, I just took him at his word. I agree that if there hadn’t been a pregnancy, they probably would have gotten together for a short while, with her realizing they had different life goals and eventually breaking up.

One of the strengths of the movie is that there are multiple angles, and the director won’t let us decide “It’s his/her fault” eaily.

One of the angles is, Ryan Gosling is very much a Beta male, and Michelle wants an Alpha.

When she encounters the jerky jock who impregnated her in the first place, it’s pretty clear that, on some level, she still LIKES that guy a lot more than she likes Ryan. He’s a man who sees what he wants and takes it- and on some primal level, that appeals to her a lot more than a genial, laid back dude who isn’t sure what he wants to be when he grows up (if he grows up).

Is the breakup as simple as that? Of COURSE not. She has very, very good reasons for being dissatisfied with Ryan. But PART of the problem is that she’s been reminded… “I have other options. There are other men out there who want me ,and I could do a helluva lot better than the guy I have.”

Lack of communication is another problem. You can see it with the business of the cheesy love hotel. She has withdrawn from him, and he thinks (without discussing it beforehand) that the hotel will solvethis problem. She tells him several times that she doesn’t want to go to the place, but he doesn’t listen. This causes her to withdraw even more, which leads to a big blow-up.

Or is, or wants to be, an Alpha.

Maybe the options she envisions are guy-based; she doesn’t want to mate with the alpha, just to be one.