Blue Valentine ★★★★½

Blue Valentine is almost too real a depiction of a shattering relationship that its difficulty to watch threatens to outweigh the obvious quality of the film. But the writing, direction, acting, music and photography are so skillfully and thoughtfully put together that you'd be mad not to suffer through it anyway.

Juxtaposing a starry-eyed couple falling in love with the same exhausted, broken-down couple at the tail-end of their relationship, is a daring proposition. Both sides of the story could easily overshadow the other and drown the film. But Derek Cianfrance is able to expertly balance the timelines out and believably convince his audience that these two were made for each other at one point, but their time is now over.

Michelle Williams was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for her performance here. But her recognition makes it all the more insane that the rest of the film was largely ignored. While I think Cianfrance could exceed this as his career progresses, I can't imagine Ryan Gosling is ever going to be any better. In my view it is one of the great performances and the only proof you need that he is a legitimate and talented actor.

Completely heartbreaking, but absolutely worth your time.

Highlight: The closing sequence showing Cindy and Dean getting married in the past as they fall apart in the current, is devastatingly effective.

Lowlight: The characters speak like real people here, and real people say "like" a lot.

Best in Show: Gosling, just over Williams.

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