DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
Blue Valentine is a film with two outstanding performances, ultimately failing to deliver its emotional punch to me because of its forced disjointed narrative.
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are absolutely amazing here. They give their characters much needed realism, so that we can connect to them, a connection established from the get go by being allowed a glimpse in their family life. It does not take long, however, to figure out that not all is well.
Throughout the film we delve into their relationship deeper, guided by a narrative that skips back and forth through time. It is done in such a way that it never becomes muddled and for the better part of the film it adds an interesting and welcome deeper layer to the proceedings. Through this mechanism the characters are brought to life even more and their strife and troubles are given a deeper dramatic layer.
And still, after a while, it started to become less functional and more forced. I felt that past the halfway point the jumps back and forth tried to juxtapose the bad and the good a bit too forcefully, making some of the dramatic developments fall completely flat. The strong grip it had on me started to slowly loosen as I became too aware of the structural manipulation and that at points completely took me out of the story and lessened the impact it could have had on me.
It's the type of thing that sometimes happens when watching a film where you want to kick yourself for not being able to switch off your rational thinking and just go along with what's unfolding before you. I probably should have been bowled over by this, but it just didn't happen.