6 August 2012

The Marriage Delusion

People think that marriage is a thing of romance however the current divorce statistics seem to be throwing a bit of a knob into that anachronistic cunt of a theory. Marriage isn't about love, it's about a bride being made to feel like a princess for one exploitatively pricey day. If marriage is a sign of romance then surely the most romantic thing is to simply remain with someone because you want to and not because you're entrapped within a contract. With so much paper work, you may as well have Gordon Gecko announce you as man and wife. Unlike the sneaky church, at least he's refreshingly honest about his love for greed.

It's not about being seen in the eyes of God either, it's about being seen in the eyes of everybody else. How about you get married in a registry office and invite only close friends and family? Then, you can use the twenty grand you've just saved on something a little more useful like a house, a family or the inevitable, equally-costly divorce. If anybody was willing to contribute to the higher cost, suggest to them that, that money instead be set aside to help your children's future. If I'd bought someone a toaster for them claiming they'll spend their life together and then they break up then I want my toaster back. They might have made a mistake but I don't see why I should be taken for a ride as well.

In my experience, one of the predominant reasons for the current popularity of marriage is the brainwashing abilities of the average schmaltzy film. It's with some relief then, that Blue Valentine was made. Anybody who thinks a big white flowing dress is about 'love' should be forced to watch this whilst strapped to a chair, their eyes pinned open and listening to lovely, lovely Ludvig.

The film starts about eight years into the marriage of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Time has not been kind to either with Gosling having turned into a balding Jason Lee and Williams's face permanently smacking of dense bitch. The movie fluctuates between time periods showing both the demise and the birth of their relationship. With these parallel stories both echoing and reflecting each other, it sort of plays out a bit like a more brutal version of The Godfather Part 2.

The break up section seems to be set over the course of the last few days. In an attempt to salvage their husk of a relationship, Gosling books the two into a motel room for a night of love, romance and finger-banging. Williams seems somewhat less than enthusiastic probably because she clearly resents him and partly because the room he's booked has no windows and a shitty spaceship theme. As crap as that sounds though it does have a cool spinning bed and is more believable than any of the sets from Battlefield Earth.

Just because she's trapped in a room with a man she can longer stand, she refuses to enjoy herself. That bitch needs to turn her frown upside down and be a bit politer when someone goes down on her. To say his attempt at eating her out was a bit awkward would be an understatement. Before she rudely stops him, he looks like a dog licking an infected ear and she looks like she's just sniffed a cat's arse hole. This was an uncomfortable experience to watch and worse still, one that I found it very difficult to masturbate to. In the end their emotional wounds and my cock were about as raw as each other.

The flashbacks show Gosling to be a removals man with Williams studying to be a nurse. They meet as she visits her dear elderly Nan in an old folks home and spots what she thinks is him stealing from some doddering old gent across the hall. He decides he loves her and attempts to prove he's not a thieving sinister by doing his best to stalk her. He later finds her on a bus and despite being legitimately creeped out, Williams is quickly won around by his infectious man-child ways.

These flashbacks are genuinely sweet with the talked about ukulele scene being a particularly heartwarming highlight. However, the sweetness is tinted with a tension as we know what miserable fucks these two fun youngsters will become. They both show so much potential which diminishes every time they get a little closer. It's an interesting romance film when you don't want the two loved ones to get it on because you know how shite their lives will eventually become. It's therefore kind of like a slasher film where you helplessly watch the two wide-eyed, love struck twonks walking obliviously towards the masked killer that is marriage.

If this was a horror film however, then it would probably be closer to The Wicker Man than Halloween. Whilst the happy couple head towards the “I do” knife, we slowly realise marriage might not be the only villain. The film's depiction of ageing is also one of depression with time seemingly sapping any energy or will out of all of the characters. Gosling and Williams obviously go from singing and dancing to ranting and rejection. They also meet in an old peoples home were the soon-to-be-dead residents have become irrelevant and vacant. Even Williams's father goes from a strong 1950's belt-beating type to helplessly locked out of his own home and attached to an oxygen tank. Like Goslings character, I too decided a while back that I wasn't going to die but from this point on I think I'll also do my best not to age either. Fuck the free bus pass, I'd rather retain my ability to develop those randomly unexplainable erections. Where boners are concerned, it's best to have and not need than need and not have.

Considering this is a film focused more on acting than style, the performances are satisfyingly strong. Beyond the equally pissed off wife in Brokeback Mountain, I haven't seen Williams in much but she's certainly got the knack for being a convincingly soul destroyed spouse. Ironically for a film about loss, Heath Ledger was originally cast in this film before dropping out because of a schedule clash with death. The other irony is that before learning this I couldn't help but be reminded by Blue Valentine of his section in I'm Not There. It would have been interesting to watch Williams and Ledger play a couple heading for divorce considering they'd already done the research of divorcing each other in real life. As method acting goes, that level of preparation must surely be up there with De Niro's pasta  eating Raging Bull rampage.

However, in The Joker's absence, Gosling is an equally worthy replacement. Especially when he's making nothing but quality films in what I presume is a cinematic apology for The Notebook. Like Drive, this thankfully goes someway to helping me forget that sentimental slab of shite but it does still linger in the memory like a loud, wet, syrupy turd. Although I probably preferred Drive, I can't help but think that watching his marriage break up was a lot more painful than seeing him mash up a goons wanking hand with a claw hammer.

Out of the two characters, Gosling originally has an easier ride by playing the more likeable of them. However, with his manchild ways comes a lack of responsibility and ultimately, aimlessness. Although Williams starts off as a sour faced bitch, we slowly realise what's made her such a moody trout. She's trapped in a situation with a man who needs to grow the fuck up. I therefore can't help but notice another criticism of marriage as two characters who shouldn't be in a relationship remain so because of the promises they've made and the guilt of breaking them. They might have wasted a decade of their life together but hey at least they've still got my gift of a toaster. Kitchen appliances always help me through the dark times in life.

If you liked Nil By Mouth and 500 Days Of Summer and wondered what they'd look like if blended together then Blue Valentine is your answer. This is much truer to real life than those alternate brainwashing, fairytale bullshit stories. Arguably my beliefs have been just as cemented by this as the deluded's are by all that Richard Curtis crap however this is different. The crazies are having their views inspired by an unrealistic hope whereas mine is being reinforced through regretful recognition. I'm not drawn to cynicism, I'm drawn to the truth. It's not my fault that there isn't much difference.

If you like films that are well written, directed and acted then this is for you. For those who believe in all the happily ever after shit then this should be a must watch. I'm aware that some people beat the odds and stick together through choice but it's rare. I have one friend whose parents aren't divorced, with his Dad regularly drawing pictures of his Mum in a hat with a stick. Although he's clearly doing it to take the piss and constantly depicts her shortness in an offensively exaggerated way, it's sweetness can't be unnoticed. However the point is that those who stay together will do so regardless and not because of a signed-with-blood wedding certificate. For those infected with the disease of wanting to get married because it's 'what they've always dreamt of doing' then this film should be provided as the cure. In the way that the Government makes safety films for twats who fly kites nearby pylons, this too should be forced upon people from a young age. It won't stop the suffering but it might at least prepare you for it.


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