For two movies that both star Ryan Gosling, jump around in time, and take love as their subject, Blue Valentine and The Notebook don’t have much in common. Blue Valentine is a draining, depressing, beautifully acted film about divorce and the insustainability of love that you would pop into the DVD player only if watching someone else’s life come unraveled makes you feel better about your own. The Notebook is a cheesy, uplifting melodrama about true love and how it lasts forever and ever that you pop into your DVD player whenever you want to feel warm and squishy and hear Ryan Gosling say “mmmmm, ba-kon” — so, like, whenever you don’t want to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. And yet, despite these core differences, Ryan Gosling was able to take one of his scenes from The Notebook and make it work for Blue Valentine.
Early in The Notebook, Gosling’s character, Noah, convinces Rachel McAdams’s character, Allie, to go on a date with him by, um, playfully pretending he will kill himself if she does not. He hangs off of a Ferris wheel one-handed until she accepts. (Somehow this is not super threatening, creepy, or a sign of mental illness. Maybe because Allie undoes his pants while he is still hanging from the Ferris wheel — yes, that happens, too; he is wearing underwear that are basically board shorts. Really non-threatening undies, those. Or maybe it’s because he’s Ryan Gosling. Anyway.)
In Blue Valentine, there’s a scene filmed on the Manhattan Bridge in which Gosling’s character, Dean, is trying to get Michelle Williams’s character, Cindy, to tell him what’s wrong with her. Director Derek Cianfrance gave both actors opposing instructions: He told Williams to do whatever she had to do to keep the secret, and he told Gosling to do whatever he had to do to make her tell it. After hours of improvising without Williams breaking down, Gosling got super reckless and … cribbed the aforementioned scene straight from The Notebook. Dean climbs up the side of the bridge and throws his leg over, getting Cindy to confess by not so playfully pretending he will kill himself if she doesn’t. (This actually is a bit creepy.) The moral of the story? High art, it too can come from The Notebook.
Check out both scenes below. Be warned that the clip from Blue Valentine contains a spoiler (Cindy’s secret).
Getting a chick to do what you want by threatening to harm yourself in The Notebook!
Getting a chick to do what you want by threatening to harm yourself in Blue Valentine!