Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams fall in and out of love with stunning clarity in Blue Valentine.
This unflinching look at the making and breaking of a contemporary secular marriage features the emergence of an exciting new filmmaker in director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance, and the best performance of the year from Ryan Gosling.
Filled with raw emotions and intense, intimate sexuality, Blue Valentine features Gosling and Williams in turns which exemplify their fearlessness as actors. Rarely do we see such naked passion unleashed on the screen, especially during a year in cinema where the love story has become shallow and manufactured. This is the romance film we’ve been waiting for, and oh how it breaks our hearts.
Gosling and Williams star as Dean and Cindy. Cross cutting between their courtship and their break up, theirs is a love filled with as many rewards as there are obstacles, the former a young daughter named Frankie (Faith Wladyka) and the later an emerging difference of direction in where their marriage should be.
The portrayal of their sexual relationship (which has been an issue of controversy) is used as a compass into their intimacy. Earlier scenes are filled with lust and passion, while later physical encounters brim with resentment and anger.
Cianfrance’s intimate approach in his direction, along with his disarmingly profound screenplay (co-written with Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis) is striking in its sensitivity.
Yet it is the performances that make these characters so believable. When Gosling and Williams speak it is without pretense, and when they touch it is with feeling.
Gosling especially leaves an undeniable impression, playing a hopeless romantic with natural charm and searing intensity. He has a screen presence and acting arsenal which reminds of a young Robert De Niro, especially in the way he expresses emotion and delivers dialogue, at times repeating his lines with such certainty that it will make you stand up and take notice.
Coupled with Williams, and theirs is an on screen partnership which will not be forgotten. Our feelings for them become just as intrinsic and intimate as theirs are for each other. A broken heart is never recommended, but in the case of Blue Valentine the pain is worth the experience.