Blue Valentine (2010) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Dean Pereira and Cindy Heller Pereira are a young, working class married couple - Dean currently working as a painter, and Cindy working as a nurse in a medical clinic - with a young daughter named Frankie. Despite their relatively tender ages, they are both ravaged by the life they've eked out together and by the experiences they've had leading into their marriage. Dean, a high school drop out, comes from a broken home, where he never really had a mother figure. He never saw himself getting married or having a family despite falling in love at first sight with Cindy. He doesn't have any professional ambition beyond his current work - which he enjoys since he feels he can knock off a beer at 8 o'clock in the morning without it affecting his work - although Cindy believes he has so much more potential in life. Cindy also comes from a dysfunctional family, with her own mother and father not setting an example of a harmonious married or family life. One of her previous serious relationships was with Bobby Ontario, that relationship which has a profound affect on many aspects of her marriage to Dean. Dean and Cindy head off on an overnight getaway together without Frankie, the getaway which may provide a clearer picture if their marriage can survive its many issues.

  • The relationship of a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film depicts a married couple, Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy Heller (Michelle Williams), shifting back and forth in time between their courtship and the dissolution of their marriage several years later.

    Present Day: The film begins with a little girl (Frankie) calling for her lost dog, Megan. After the dog doesn't return she goes inside to find her Daddy, who is asleep in a chair in the living room. She wakes him, and they go outside to find Megan the dog. They spend a few minutes searching for her. You can tell right away that they have a wonderful relationship and that Frankie loves her father with all her heart. After a few minutes, they go inside to wake up Cindy, they jump on her bed in what seems to be a nice family moment. Cindy seems slightly cranky and insists she gets to sleep for a while longer. They get her up and begin to eat breakfast. Cindy is clearly the parent who enforces the rules while Dean is the fun one. Cindy tries to get Frankie to eat her breakfast (cold oatmeal with raisins), but Frankie doesn't comply until Dean takes the fun approach of eating on the table like leopards. Cindy, frustrated, takes Frankie out of the room and gets her ready for school. Cindy and Frankie are in the car, and Dean brings out Frankie's backpack and asks Cindy to buckle her seat-belt, to which she waves off with annoyance. Dean goes to work as a home painter and Cindy as a nurse in a pre-natal private practice. Her boss asks if she has made the decision to move to another city with his practice. She remarks that hasn't had the time to discuss it with her family yet, and her boss looks disappointed, but tells her to let him know by Monday. After her shift, she rushes to Frankie's school to see her in an assembly. Along the way, she sees Megan dead on the side of the road. When she arrives at Frankie's assembly, she sits next to Dean who can tell something is wrong right away. She says that she found Megan and begins to cry. Dean is upset and asks how many times he has to ask her to lock the dog gate before she gets it. After the assembly, they take Frankie to a sleepover at Cindy's Dad's house. Her father asks is anything is wrong, she doesn't respond. Dean and Cindy say goodnight to Frankie and go home. When they arrive they bury Megan and Cindy begins to clean the house while Dean watches home movies of Frankie and Megan. Dean then calls a cheap hotel for them to spend a night together. Cindy says she is on call tomorrow and doesn't have the time to go away for the evening. Dean is ardent about them spending the night together, she relents, and they head out. While stopping to get gas and booze Cindy runs into an old boyfriend, named Bobby. He asks if she is married and if she has been faithful to him. Cindy says yes and leaves. In the car, Dean asks what took her so long. She says that he will never guess who she ran into. When she reveals it was Bobby, Dean freaks out. Cindy tries to calm him by lying and saying that Bobby is fat and ugly, but that does nothing for Dean.

    Flashback. We meet Dean six or seven years earlier. He is a charismatic slacker who is applying for a job at a moving company. He talks about love and romance with his co-workers, saying that men are more romantic than women. Women dream about meeting Prince Charming and end up choosing a man because he is safe and has a good job. Dean says, "men just know by looking at women that they are the one". He says that it is like listening to music; sometimes you hear a song, and you just got to dance to it. One day Dean and his crew help move an old gentleman into a nursing home. His boss says Dean doesn't have a lot of time to unpack the items into the room and to hurry up. As Dean goes through he boxes, he sees the remnants of an amazing life. He takes the time to unpack everything and decorate the room with old matchboxes on the wall, the man's navy uniform, and photos from his past. When the old man comes to the room, Dean helps him in and puts him in a rocking chair and shows him the work he has done. The old man is a little overwhelmed but clearly appreciates what Dean has done for him. Dean then goes to take his part of the payment which his boss left for him on a table, but before he leaves he looks out the door and sees something...

    Flashback. We meet Cindy six or seven years earlier. She is in a wheelchair making her way around a college campus. She goes to the campus athletic center and watches some wrestlers. One of them looks up and comes out to see her, and he is Bobby. He kisses her and asks why she is in a wheelchair and she says that she is seeing how accessible the campus is to paraplegics. He asks why she is always doing things like this and calls her a freak and continues to kiss her. She pulls away and says that she will see him later. A little later, Bobby is having sex with Cindy from behind, and he is very rough with her. She tries to go away for a second, but he goes even harder. Finally, she gets away to the bathroom where she attempts to pull a broken condom out of herself. A few days later we see Cindy taking care of her elderly grandmother. Cindy brings her back from a walk to a nursing home and settles her down into her room. She goes to close the door when she sees across the hall to a neighbor's room and sees Dean taking his share of the money from the old man. Dean sees her spying on him and come out to her room and insists that he wasn't stealing the money. Cindy nods but doesn't believe him. Dean says that it was his pay for the day and asks for her name and what she is doing later that night. She doesn't reply, and he writes his name on the back of his business card and asks her to give him a chance. She smiles, takes the card, and closes the door.

    Present Day. Cindy and Dean arrive at the hotel and are in a futuristic room complete with a rotating bed. Cindy gets in the shower. Dean joins her and attempts to go down on her. She pulls away, and they finish showering in silence. Later, while eating dinner, Cindy asks why Dean why he never took the initiative with work. He is upset that she isn't happy with where he is, and that working as a house painter allows him to do the job he loves most, being a husband and father. She drops the issue and they finish eating.

    Flashback. After a month of not hearing from Cindy, Dean begins to lose all hope. One day while sweeping out a moving truck he finds a locket that belonged to the old man in the nursing home. That gives him the excuse to go back to the home to hopefully see Cindy. When he arrives at the home the old man's room is cleaned out, and his blankets are folded on the bed. Disappointed that the old man died, Dean sees Cindy's grandmother in her room and asks about that girl who was in her room with her a while back. Cindy's Grandma says her name is Cindy, and she is her granddaughter. Dean leaves and take the bus home. On the bus, he sees Cindy and goes to sit with her and the two talk, joke, and get along quite well. Their time on the bus extends to an impromptu date where he sings for her while she tap dances. You can see that already they are in love.

    Present Day. Back in the hotel room Dean and Cindy are both getting drunk, and he tries to make love to her but she pretends to fall asleep. Frustrated he walks away. She follows him, and they fool around on the floor. He begins to get naked and asks her to make a baby with him, but she stops him and tries to make him play rape her. He says that he loves her and won't do that to her. She gets angry, walks out, and locks the door to the bedroom so he cannot follow her. He pounds on the door saying that he will never hit or treat her like that, that he loves her, and that it isn't right of her to treat him like this after all he has done for her. He just wants to make a baby with her.

    Flashback. We see Cindy in a classroom while Bobby collects the classes papers. He pauses at her desk, and she ignores him. Angry, he takes her paper and walks away. After class, she goes to the bathroom and takes a pregnancy test. We can tell by her face that it is positive. She finds Dean after work and they go for a walk. They come to a bridge and after nagging her the whole time about what is bothering her Dean threatens to jump over the bridge. Cindy will not tell him what is wrong until his is over the side and ready to jump. When he hears of her pregnancy, he asks if it is his and she says that it is doubtful. Angry he starts hitting the fence of the bridge, she starts to walk away, but he follows her and asks what she plans to do (abort/adopt/keep) and she says nothing. Dean says he loves her and that he will support her no matter what she chooses. The movie cuts to Cindy at an abortion clinic answering questions (when did you begin having sex? How many partners? Etc...), she then goes into the room to have an abortion, the doctor is ready to administer the procedure when Cindy stops him saying she cannot go though with it and she wants to see her friend. She walks out of the clinic and Dean follows her, you can't hear what they are saying but he mouths "I love you" and she nods and he holds her while she cries. Cindy goes home smiling, lays on her bed, and listens to her missed messages. They are from Bobby who says he knows she is pregnant, that the baby is his, and that he is going to beat Dean to a pulp if shes doesn't call and take him back. Cindy tries to call Dean at work but while she is calling Bobby and two of his wrestling buddies find Dean and beat him pretty badly. Later Dean goes to meet Cindy's parents. Cindy's father asks if he graduated from high school and he says no, but that he loves Cindy and will do what it takes to support her. Cindy's mother says that Cindy is going to become a Doctor and Dean says that he loves that and thinks she is the smartest person he knows. He says he would like to have her as his or his kid's doctor someday. After dinner Cindy and Dean go up to her room and fool around. Before things get serious, Dean says he picked a song for them. He plays it and asks her to marry him, she agrees.

    Present Day. The next day in the hotel Cindy's phone rings and her job asks her to come in to work. She tries to get out of it but she is their last hope. She gets dressed and writes Dean a note explaining where she went and that he will have to take a bus home. Dean wakes up, angry that Cindy left him there like some drunk and makes his way to her place of work. Cindy's boss asks again if she thought about transferring with him. She says it has only been a day and she thought she had until Monday to decide. Her boss says that he could get her an apartment where she could stay during the week and then come home on the weekends. Perhaps, he adds, they could even get dinner together in the evenings. Cindy is shocked and reminds him that she is married and that she thought he wanted to take her with him because she is good at her job. Her boss gets flustered and goes into to see a patient.

    Meanwhile, Dean arrives at the hospital and the nurse at the greeting station makes a rude comment about he must be Dean, he says he is just here to see his wife. The nurse calls Cindy who is upset that he came to visit her at work and the co-worker nurse asks Cindy if she will be alright and tells her not to let Dean brainwash her. They head to Cindy's office and Dean flies off the handle that she has been talking about them at work and leaving him at the hotel and their fight escalates into yelling. Cindy's boss and co-worker come in to try to help and Dean tells them to leave or he will hit her boss. The boss does not leave so Dean slugs him. When the boss stands back up he fires Cindy and tells both of them to get the hell out of his office. They leave, Cindy disgusted with Dean and she screams that she can't do this with him anymore and that she wants a divorce. Angry, Dean throws his wedding ring into some bushes a moment later he calms down and goes to find it. Cindy joins him in the search for his ring and they look for it in silence.

    During their fight in her office the movie flashes back and forth from the fight to their wedding day at the Justice of the Peace office. Cindy is 6 or 7 months pregnant and Dean tells her how beautiful she looks. She asks if he is nervous, and he says that he is nervous they won't get in fast enough and that Cindy will change her mind. She laughs at the thought and kisses him to reassure him of her decision. We see a simple ceremony that clearly means a lot to both of them as they cry while giving their vows and kissing each other as man and wife.

    Present Day. Cindy and Dean arrive at her father's house to pick up Frankie who is excited to see them both. Cindy hands Frankie to Dean and heads inside. Dean hands Frankie to her Grandpa, goes inside, and locks the door so they cannot follow them in. In her fathers kitchen Cindy says that she is serious about the divorce. Dean pleads with her to reconsider and says that she is being selfish and isn't thinking about Frankie and that even though she isn't his daughter he still loves her like one and that he will do anything she wants. He asks Cindy to tell him what to do and he will do it to be with them, he will do whatever she wants. Cindy says that she is thinking about Frankie and that she has fallen out of love with Dean and she cannot pretend anymore. They will never change to be what the other person needs and she just needs her space. Dean realizing this is it, leaves. Frankie chases after Dean calling for her daddy. Dean turns to her and says she must go back to her mother, Frankie just puts her arms around his neck. Dean lifts her up and gives her a big hug as Cindy comes up to them. Dean hands Frankie back to Cindy and walks away while Frankie cries out "DADDY! DADDY!" and Cindy turns to go back to her father's house, leaving Dean to walk away and out of hers and Frankie's lives forever.**

    **I don't agree that he "walks out of their lives forever." Dean said she made a promise, "for better or worse." He said, "well, this is my worse." Dean said he would do anything, just tell him what to do and he will do it. Cindy agreed she made a vow to him and she was sorry. Dean said he would change, but she has to give him a chance to change. She nodded. By now, he has calmed down. He went over to hug her and she resisted, but she allowed him to hug her.

    You can tell that he is patient, loving and sincere about wanting to keep his family intact and make changes in his life, and that she acknowledges this, but isn't sure. I think she resists him, not because she doesn't love him, but because the relationship is not growing and he is caught up in a life that is going nowhere: drinking, low ambition and petty jealousies. Dean is a good, honest person, but he is very immature and my guess is, she doesn't want to raise 2 children. She wants a man, and he's still very much a child, emotionally.

    We cut away to their wedding day and their kiss, a very long kiss, but it shows how deeply in love they were. When we flash forward and see them today, she is hugging him with both arms, fully. She obviously still loves him, very much. At that point, she asked Dean to please, just give her space. And wanting to save his marriage and family, he fully complies with her request.

    THAT'S why he walked out. Not forever. I don't think he would walk out on Frankie forever. That was never implied. We don't know how it turned out and there are several ways it could have ended. They, very well, may have gotten a divorce, but he would never abandon his daughter because HE was abandoned by his mother. And Cindy would certainly not let that pig, Bobby, raise Frankie, or even ever find out she was his. No, Dean was Frankie's father.

    They may have gotten back together under certain circumstances, like he got counseling, stopped drinking, bettered himself, got his HS diploma, etc. By her reaction to him, and by her saying, "give me some space," it is evident she is going to think about things more fully and she has not made a final decision. At the same time, he may move forward with trying to better himself on his own, which would mean a lot to Cindy. It is apparent that if he is sincere, and goes through with making some changes, she will probably take him back.

    So, to say he "walks out on them forever" is just your opinion and another possibility, albeit, a very unlikely one. On purpose, the writer left us with an ending to the movie that was vague; an ending we are to decide for ourselves. Think of "Gone With the Wind." We don't know if there will be a happy ending, but there is a small glimmer of hope left there for us to use in any way we choose. tday, 4/7/12

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