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This movie is the perfect example of why I'm afraid of marriage. Young lovers bubbling with awkward passion as they wander aimlessly just for the sake of spending time together. All of a sudden a few years have passed, the marriage is in shambles, and their left wondering if they can raise their adorable little girl in a broken home without love. This is the path Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) sadly trod. I don't want to be like them. This feeling is the reason this film is so powerful. It forces you to attach your own feelings by seeing the void widen between the couple as they try desperately to clasp on to anything left to hold them together.
There are plenty of films dealing with the same topic, but not many feel so authentic. The film is cut between the present where the couple is crumbling, and the past where their relationship was just starting to bloom. By doing this, the film creates massive emotional peaks and valleys. Your heart starts to warm and open up to this cute couple, then it cuts back to the present and sticks you while you're exposed. It also shows you just how far apart they've grown since they initially fell for each other.
Brilliant as usual, Ryan Gosling plays a charming high school drop out who over the years turns into a drunk with a receding hairline. Regardless, he remains the good intentioned man that he tries to be, fighting for the family he whole heartedly believes in. Michelle Williams on the other hand plays a bright medical student who settled at nurse and got knocked up much younger than she ever wanted. Both actors are absolutely superb, letting the confusion of stale love be seen in their every action.
Andrij Parekh's groaty cinematography works perfectly with the film. Scenes are often shot almost entirely in extreme close ups, constantly struggling to stay in focus. Its as if the camera is searching for an answer, but it's just as lost and confused as the characters it is capturing on film. The soundtrack, which was surprisingly composed by Grizzly Bear, is understated, but satisfying. As the film comes to a close, without spoiling anything, the end credits are both creative and thematically fitting.
For a director who has spent the last 10 years of his life creating TV documentaries, Derek Cianfrance's latest work of fiction is an absolutely raw character study of a couple who's marriage is no longer a symbol of love and devotion. A pair of powerful performances drive this heart wrenching film, but its certainly not lacking in any technical areas. Blue Valentine is one of the year's best films.