Publicity arose in October 2010 after the Motion Picture Association of America slapped Blue Valentine with a movie rating of NC-17.
The Weinstein Company, a film production corporation, fought the NC-17 rating after the MPAA stated that certain scenes between the characters Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy Heller (Michelle Williams) were too inappropriate for even an R rating. The Weinstein Company's plea to the MPAA was successful, and Blue Valentine got its R.
After so much hype, it seemed the film was going to be raunchy from the get-go. After the lights were dimmed and the trailers ceased, though, the film didn't start with crazy or intense sex or violence. It started with a little girl in search of her dog. Wondering how she fits into the plot, viewers soon learn that her father and mother are Dean and Cindy, a married couple living in a modest house in Pennsylvania.
Although the media portrayed the film as much more provocative than it actually was, the first scene portrays the meaning of Blue Valentine perfectly. The film wasn't about a couple having sex or getting into fights, it was about the hardships that they faced throughout the course of their relationship, most of which are relatable to any relationship.
Through the use of flashbacks, viewers see the couple's past paralleled with scenes from their lives in the present. We learn that Dean and Cindy first meet at a nursing home. While Dean is working for a moving company and helping an elderly man transition into his new room, Cindy is caring for her grandmother. Shortly afterward, we see a scene showcasing how Dean and Cindy function as spouses who have lost their initial admiration for one another.
The scenes which the MPAA cited as being NC-17 worthy were definitely not as shocking as purported and didn't seem to elicit any sense of a rating higher than R. Though they may have been awkward or uncomfortable to watch, the scenes helped establish the progression of Dean and Cindy's relationship.
All MPAA hype aside, both actors did a superb job of portraying the initial love and, later, the complacency that the characters shared for one another. The film's organization brilliantly juxtaposes the facets of a changing relationship over a span of years. Though not all couples may go through the exact same ups and downs as Dean and Cindy, there is a sense of reality that reaches every viewer.