Music By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Blue Valentine is a drama featuring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple who find themselves struggling to keep their relationship together. Through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards, the film examines the relationship as a whole, from the first moments of a budding romance to parenthood and the rocky road toward the dissolution of that marriage.
When the discussion of a musical score for Blue Valentine came up, Director Derek Cianfrance turned to a Brooklyn band known as Grizzly Bear. But when it came time to shoot the film, the band was already heavily into a road tour for their break-out album, Veckatimest. So, instead of waiting for the band to create a completely new musical score molded around the movie shoot, Cianfrance used tracks from Veckatimest.
The Blue Valentine Soundtrack opens with these Grizzly Bear songs in their instrumental format and then later features them with the lyrics as they appear on the Veckatimest album. The songs in their instrumental form are incredibly morose and without even knowing what the film is about, you can sense the sadness surrounding its characters. I actually preferred these tracks to the one featuring lyrics as these seem to sum up the mood of the film as a whole.
The soundtrack also features songs by other artists. Ryan Gosling performs an interesting and funny version of You Always Hurt the Ones You Love. In Ear Park by Department of Eagles is a song about loss and remembrance, perfectly describing the relationship between Gosling and Williams’ characters as they remember the happiness of their courtship and the first years of their marriage and mourn what they have lost. By far, the best song on the entire album is You and Me by Penny & the Quarters. Recorded some time in the 1970s, this song was found on a long lost demo recorded for Harmonic Sound Studios in Columbus, Ohio some time after the studio owner’s death in 2006. How this band never made it further than a demo track or two is beyond me, but You and Me is the ultimate love song: “When love is real, you don’t have to show it. / When it is true, then everyone will know. / ‘Cause there’ll be no one but / You and me, / You and me, / Nobody baby but you and me.”
The Blue Valentine Soundtrack perfectly describes the ups and downs of this couple’s relationship and the pain and mourning of a love lost. As background music for the film its perfect. As a standalone album…well, like the couple’s relationship in this film, it has its ups and downs, but the ups are well-worth checking out.