Blue Valentine appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an adequate presentation but not a great one.
Some of that stemmed from the original photography, especially in terms of sharpness. Most of the movie looked pretty concise and distinctive, but lapses occurred, usually due to photographic choices; while not obnoxious in its use of “documentary-style” camerawork, it favored handheld shots and occasional instances of focusing on the fly happened. Those were the cause of most softness, though some other examples of less than exemplary definition cropped up as well.
Still, overall delineation seemed fine, and I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects. Source flaws were a minor concern, though. I noticed occasional small specks; while I doubt we got more than 20 of these, that was still more than expected from a brand-new film.
Colors varied depending on era and mood. Some scenes featured a blue tint – natch – while some were blown out and others looked pretty natural. When viewed within the stylistic choices, the hues appeared well-represented. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows looked fine; I noticed no issues with excessive opacity in low-light shots. Overall, this was a generally positive image, but its various concerns made it a “B-“.
Though I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Valentine also merited a “B-“, it earned its grade mostly due to a lack of sonic ambition – which is about what I expected from a character drama of this sort. Not much material existed to open up the soundfield. Music remained subdued, and effects stayed in the environmental range; some fireworks and traffic became the most involving elements. Throw in a little directional dialogue and that’s about it, but again, that was perfectly fine; a flick like this shouldn’t provide a window-rattling mix.
Audio quality was acceptable. Lines could occasionally be a bit tough to understand, but that was due to the cinematic style more than anything else; the dialogue sometimes got buried in the mix to a mild degree. Most of the material was concise and understandable, though. The light music seemed clear, and effects were accurate and precise. This was a consistently low-key track for a low-key movie.
The disc includes a handful of extras. We open with an audio commentary from director Derek Cianfrance and co-editor Jim Helton. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at inspirations and influences, cast and performances, camerawork and editing, sets and locations, music and sound design, and a few other production issues.
Unsurprisingly, Cianfrance does most of the heavy lifting here; Helton throws out a fair amount of information, but the director dominates. And that’s fine, especially since he offers a reasonably solid overview of the film. He can seem a bit too impressed with himself at times – his love for “realism” that I mention in the body of my review because a little annoying – but we still find a generally enjoyable, informative take here.
Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 45 seconds. We find “Relationship Talk in the Van” (2:52), “Makeup in the Rain” (5:36), “The Park” (7:38) and “That Face” (3:39). “Talk” is entertaining comic relief; it’d have been superfluous in the final film, but it’s amusing. The other three just ramble. They all show Cindy and Dean in their courtship stage, and they really drag. They’d add nothing to the film and just make it slow and tedious.
The Making of Blue Valentine runs 13 minutes, 50 seconds, and features remarks from Cianfrance and actors Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. They discuss story, script and development, characters and themes, cast and performances, and working with Cianfrance.
Finally, a home movie called “Frankie and the Unicorn” lasts three minutes, four seconds. It shows a video shot by the actors during the month they spent getting to know each other. The home movie itself isn’t particularly interesting, but it’s a cool artifact of an unusual production.
An ad for The Company Men opens the disc. No trailer for Valentine appears here.
If you want a consistent coherent relationship drama, Blue Valentine won’t be for you. The movie tends to be hit or miss; it hits enough to make it worthwhile, but its sags frustrate. The Blu-ray comes with decent picture and audio as well as a smattering of useful supplements. I like Valentine enough to recommend it but I can’t promise greatness from it.