BLUE VALENTINE is a heartbreaking and romantic film that is anchored by two great performances


  There are several films that mainly focus on the beginning of a passionate romance that might lead to marriage someday. There are also several films that focus on the end of a marriage. Blue Valentine manages to do both as it intercuts between the past and present to tell a romantic, but heartbreaking story of a young couple.

  Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) have been married for six years. Dean is comfortable with the life he has as a freelance housepainter where he has quite a temper and a penchant to drink beer in the morning. Cindy is a nurse who, unlike Dean, is not satisfied with her life because she is mentally and physically exhausted with her marriage.

  Even though they have a daughter (Faith Wladyka) that they are devoted to, they realize that their lives are a mess and that they falling out of love with each other. In an act of desperation, Dean and Cindy go to a tacky motel with themed rooms in order to try to rekindle their marriage.

  Director Derek Cianfrance hits a home run with his second feature film as he explores the intimate beginnings of a relationship, along with the deterioration and implosion of a marriage. The screenplay, which Cianfrance co-wrote with Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne, presents a unique narrative where the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present. It becomes extremely effective when it shows how different Dean and Cindy were six years ago by counterpointing the days as young adults sharing passionate moments with each other to where they end up in the present as bitter and sad adults unsatisfied with the way their life has turned out.

  Cianfrance shot intense and lingering close-ups using long lenses and the Red digital camera system for the contemporary moments of the film, while he used shorter lens and shot on a Super 16mm camera to capture the couple in their happier days. By using this kind of method to shoot Blue Valentine, Cianfrance captures the genuine and raw moments that they endure throughout the film whether it is watching them have their first date or fail miserably when they try flirt with each other in a small and cheap motel room.

  Gosling and Williams are on top of their game as they create the most genuine and powerful performances of their career. As Dean and Cindy, they share moments where they simultaneously fall head-over heels with each other and disintegrate in front of our eyes in the span of two hours. The actors help compliment the screenplay’s dialogue as shown in the scenes where Dean and Cindy have their first date as they are so convincing in their roles that it seems that they are actually falling in love with each other. Gosling is more effective in his performance when he has child-like fits whenever he feels insecure or gets rejected by his spouse during intimate moments. Williams has a more subtle performance as she expresses her dissatisfaction internally until she reaches a boiling point.

  Blue Valentine captures the raw emotions of falling in and out of love thanks to the performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams and a unique narrative structure that contrasts the character’s relationship in the past and in the present.  

BLUE VALENTINE: 5 stars out of 5


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