Blue Valentine

Year: 2010
Production Co: Hunting Lane Films
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: Derek Cianfrance/Cami Delavigne/Joey Curtis
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

You've probably heard words like 'raw', 'unflinching' and 'powerful' used to describe this film. Believe it. Any time rich, attractive movie stars portray people the rest of us are like in circumstances of poverty, desperation or grinding drudgery the rest of us have to deal with the industry collectively pats itself on the back in congratulation and there's usually a shade of hypocrisy about it.

Not so here, simply because the performances by Gosling and Williams as young parents Dean and Cindy are faultless. You feel every stab of pain at their hurt and confusion about why – after they loved each other so completely – things have turned out the way they have.

During a single day when they decide on a whim to get away to a trashy love hotel to be alone together we see the genesis of their relationship in flashbacks, from Dean's life as a removalist to Cindy's caring for her elderly grandmother.

They fall fast and hard, get pregnant too fast and despite the odds they face it's a fairytale love story where the light of how they feel is a beacon in otherwise grey, grimy existences. But after seeing the pair in the present day for awhile we realise something's happened. The strange black force that affects so many marriages (nothing so distinctive as Dean's alcoholism or the struggle to survive on little money) have drained all the compassion and starry-eyed romance out of them and the fact that they almost can't stand the sight and feel of each other is as hurtful as its effects.

The film has little to say about making love last, just that (as we seldom see on movie screens) sometimes it can be the cruelest state of all. If you can stand it, we need more movies like this that skewer the slavish and foolish adherence to this belief that love conquers all.

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