Friday, December 31, 2010

Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling is heartbreaking in Blue Valentine, the new movie about how devastatingly sad it is when two people stop loving each other. He's an extraordinary actor, different in every movie. In this film Dean, Gosling's character, is the one whose pain I felt most keenly. You've read about the movie, I'm sure, and the experience of watching it, for me at least, was diminished by knowing a little too much about it. But I don't think it will be a spoiler to hear that Gosling's character has a tattoo on his upper arm that features the cover of The Giving Tree. It's such a killer image, because the book has duped Dean into believing its cold-hearted message: the more you give, the more will be taken, until you've given everything, and there's nothing left.

I thought of Dean reading The Giving Tree over and over to his daughter, having so much faith in it that he had it carved into his skin -- which even recalls Kafka's In the Penal Colony, in a way. I guess there are ways to erase tattoos these days, but I somehow think Dean won't have it removed. I can't shake him from my head, and I only wish that he had read a different book to his little girl. There are better books about love.