There’s nothing the least bit starry about Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, a heartbreaking drama from American indie director Derek Cianfrance. And the naked honesty of their performances makes their characters’ fates all the more convincing and touching.
They play blue-collar couple Dean and Cindy whose marriage is on the verge of collapse because they want different things from life. He’s an easygoing house painter, content to be a dad to their adorable young daughter (scene-stealer Faith Wladyka); she’s a hard-pressed nurse, frustrated with her lot.
As we watch Dean strive to save the marriage over a 24-hour period (including a painfully sad night spent in the ‘future room’ of a tacky love motel), we also see flashbacks to their joyful courtship six years earlier.
The giddy excitement of these scenes (filmed with a hand-held camera) reveal why Dean and Cindy were attracted to each other in the first place – but they also show why their relationship was doomed from the start. A film, then, that’s so truthful it’s sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but worth staying with for the brilliant acting.
Released DVD & Blu-ray by Optimum Home Entertainment on 9th May.