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Blue Valentine movie poster

Blue Valentine: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, John Doman
Released by: The Weinstein Company

In Short: They married too young, now life isn’t pretty for a struggling couple in this depressing, slow-moving grind that leaves viewers yearning for the sequel to “The Hangover.”

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A Marriage Disintegrates Before Our Eyes

Despite the few controversial (and explicit) sex scenes that initially garnered “Blue Valentine” an NC-17 rating, this is not a film that will turn anybody on, at least not for long. Now rated R, this marriage-in-crisis drama chronicles the two sides of young love, shifting back and forth between the high-school age meeting of the protagonists, and the current state of their marriage, four years and one baby later. And it isn’t pretty, at either end.

Ryan Gosling stars as a high-school dropout, a real loser who sweeps smart girl Michelle Williams off her feet, down the aisle straight into motherhood before she even finishes school. Both are fine actors, and both bring a reality to the story that makes it visceral and all too real. To put that realism front and center, director-writer Derek Cianfrance chose to shoot the film in a cinema-verite style, using handheld cameras, grainy film stock and natural (often unflattering) lighting to make us feel as if we are squirmingly close — right inside, really — to the nasty proceedings.

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

And it is all too real because any savvy moviegoer will know from the start how this is going to end (badly), and it is only a true masochist who will find this Sturm und Drang experience a good way to spend two hours. Watching an incredibly unhappy married couple play out the last moments of their bitter, tortured relationship is what “Blue Valentine” offers up; in other words, it’s a depressing, slow-moving grind that leaves the viewer yearning for the sequel to “The Hangover.” Or for the chance to watch any other funny movie, for that matter.

Perhaps the most ironic thing about “Blue Valentine” is that its leading actors apparently became a real-life couple during the filming and are continuing to date as they promote the flick. That situation gives them the chance to eventually play out their own messy breakup in the tabloids, just like Gosling did with his “The Notebook” costar Rachel McAdams a few years ago. Perhaps that story will be more interesting to watch than the one they portray on screen?

Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 12/29/10 CT)

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