"I like how you can compliment and insult somebody at the same time, in equal measure."Face it: In today's movie climate where we're bombarded by the typical romantic movies like No Strings Attached, Just Wright, and a slew of other dreamy fairy tales, it's nice to see love get the raw treatment in Blue Valentine.
Indie darlings Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling play Brooklynites Cindy and Dean, a twenty-something married couple trapped in the throes of their own relationship. Having met at a young age, their relationship plays out like some of the more devastating love songs on old school radio. Dean is wrought with insecurity as the rugged young fella who falls for a quirky blond nurse-to-be with high hopes and a real penchant for intolerable pain. His one big problem isn't the fact that he didn't finished high school or that he'll probably never have a real flourishing career, or that he has to have a swig of vodka to get ready for work in the morning, but that he is in love, in a real brutal kind of way. You know, one of those "falling in love is hard on the knees" Bon Jovi/Guns 'N Roses kind of love, where you're so blinded by your love that you can't see the other things glaring at you.
Take for instance, Cindy's distorted view on love itself. Growing up watching her parents' love for each other seep out of their home like a slow-deflating oxygen tank, Cindy questions what love looks like and how it feels. Is it supposed to be harsh? Are you supposed to feel or is it just good enough to see it? She masks her own misgivings by sinking deep into a profound love with the first guy who really showed her a glimpse of what love could be. But her own doubts force her to pear through the bubble she and Dean put themselves in and burst it wide open, revealing all its tiny fragments.
Emotional, scary, and tender at times, Blue Valentine is a delicate look at love in various snapshots of the good times intertwined with the more heartbreaking unfolding of the bad. The two sides intertwine so effortlessly they often melt into one. Some of the best moments were the ones where no words are spoken, but everything is said. It takes two fantastic actors to pull off such a task; Williams and Gosling rise to the occasion. Williams's beautiful performance is played nicely off Gosling's remarkably vulnerable performance yielding a timeless portrayal of love, romance, agony and despair.