Rated R on appeal for strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating, 114 minutes
“Blue Valentine” finely details what happens after the honeymoon
If you’re a newlywed, then “Blue Valentine” may not be the best movie for you to see. Otherwise, it’s a finely drawn, superbly acted but pensive romantic drama about a married couple’s communication issues. Ryan Gosling, who stars in the film and starred in “The Notebook,” has said this works as a perfect companion piece to that aforementioned film.
Gosling is Dean, Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain”) is Cindy, a lower middle-class couple with a small daughter. They fell in love years ago but like many married couples, have gone in different paths. Cindy, a pretty small town girl, wants a stable life and career, while the eccentric Dean is perfectly happy revolving his life around his family; as they come to a crossroads in their marriage, they reflect on a happier time during their courtship.
“Blue Valentine” is a sad, leisurely but often emotionally gripping drama about the dissolution of a marriage. It perfectly contrasts the earlier time when the couple fell in love with the later “older” married couple that has grown distant and annoyed with each other. Documentary filmmaker Derek Cianfrance directs and writes a pensive character study that is hallmarked by two excellent performances from the leads, who make an otherwise reflective, downbeat film watchable.
Gosling and Williams are two of contemporary cinema’s finest actors, in a portrait of a troubled contemporary marriage that’s often difficult to watch, especially in the film’s darker (there are a handful of explicit scenes for those that care about that thing), even heartbreaking, last act. Both Gosling and Williams are wholly believable and their warm chemistry together is effective at getting the audience to buy into their relationship early on in the film. Though both actors carry the film, Williams is especially good as the shattered young wife who is unable to communicate with her husband, and of the two, she is the more likely to receive an Oscar nomination.
“Blue Valentine” is filled with many great scenes, and while it isn’t a perfect film (a little choppy at times, a very downbeat tone), Gosling and Williams, in two of the year’s best performances, will help you emotionally connect to the story and make this gripping film a must-see.