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"Blue Valentine" Takes The Break-Up Into Another Level

Candice Aman |
January 5, 2011 | 2:23 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (Creative Commons)
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (Creative Commons)
"Blue Valentine"

(USA, 2010, 114 mins)

The story of finding love and falling out of it is an age-old formula that has come out of Hollywood, time and time again. 

However, with brilliant portrayals of a young couple coming to terms with the end of their relationship by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine” serves more than just the typical tragedy of star-crossed lovers; it is a realistic glimpse into the intimate and painful world of a break-up.

The film begins with Frankie (Faith Wladyka), a ridiculously adorable little girl as she is trying to find her missing dog. Frustrated, she calls upon her parents for help and within minutes, the two principal characters are introduced.

Her father Dean (Gosling) is playful and sympathetic while her mother Cindy (Williams) seems cold and distant. Although an argument over the dog erupts, the tumultuous relationship runs much deeper and more complicated.

The pain from the fight lingers torturously thoughout the duration of the film, searing like an untreated burn. However in light of things, the movie changes its pace and time period to greet a younger and livelier set of characters. 

The two meet in the unlikeliest of places, a nursing home, and Dean claims it to be love at first sight. With every infectiously tender moment from when the pair begins to date; intertwined with a scene from the present, where their once budding relationship is now rapidly unraveling at the seams.

Director Derek Cianfrance, whose last film, “Brother Tied,” received critical acclaim more than a decade ago, has captured the fragility of this story so beautifully by choosing to incorporate plenty of extreme close-up shots. It makes the audience feel as though they are silent observers rather than intruders to the couple’s most private moments.

Despite having taken more character driven roles in recent years, people will most likely remember Gosling from the romantic period drama “The Notebook,” a movie that made women and men alike swoon across the country. In “Blue Valentine,” that same heartthrob emerges in a darker and emotionally stripped version.

While both actors delivered some of the best performances this movie season, it is Gosling who truly triumphs in his portrayal of Dean. He is charming, funny, and often times stubborn, but he is also damaged beyond repair.

Prior to its release, the film had already gained the attention of critics and audiences alike; some for the warm reception it had garnered at the Cannes and Sundance Festivals and some for the now revoked NC-17 ratings. But apart from all the buzz, this movie is simply a love story unlike anything else before. 

Tender, romantic, and at times painful to watch, “Blue Valentine,” pulls at your heartstrings like no other film will this year.

Verdict: This emotionally charged drama of a love lost may not be the feel-good movie of the season, but it is a must-see nonetheless. 

Rating: 5/5

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