Blue Valentine ★★★½

The editing, cinematography, and acting all still work like gangbusters, but after watching a number of stronger dramatizations of failing relationships (Scenes from a Marriage, Before Midnight), the present-day arguments feel forced and overwrought. The more effective move would be to juxtapose their emotionally warm and verbally expressive past with a more cold, silent present, but Cianfrance isn't confident enough to let subtle body language speak for itself and often fills the voids with dialogue or an affected, pronounced atmosphere of misery, blunting the emotional impact of half of the story.

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