Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama, Romance
  • 2010
  • 112 mins [R][S]

Blue Valentine

Film4 Blue Valentine

Synopsis

A young married couple at breaking point rub each other up the wrong way as flashbacks show us how they first got together and why they're now falling apart.

About

Pity the couples who, perhaps seduced by the downbeat but vaguely romantic title, see this one on a first date. Staring with unabashed focus directly at emotional sores long since rubbed raw during the death throes of the relationship between nurse Cindy (Michelle Williams) and housepainter Dean (Ryan Gosling), this film only just stops short of making us feel like rubberneckers at a road crash.

Cutting between Cindy and Dean's initial romance and their later frictions, writer-director Derek Cianfrance's gracefully filmed autopsy never makes the mistake of painting their early days together as perfect. The weak points in the threads that bind this couple are evident from even their happiest first encounters; that the fabric of their affection was destined to fray and unravel is no surprise.

In some ways, this makes for an oddly reassuring message. We're emphatically not being told that this most perfect of relationships stands no chance; rather, we're being shown the consequences of attempting to live one's life chasing a vision of love ultimately as ephemeral as a soap bubble. This is the quirky Sundance movie couple five years after the happy ending.

We're never shown that Dean and Cindy have the mutual interests, compatible outlook or anything else that might help provide a solid bedrock for a lifetime's companionship once the electrical crackle of their early years' excitement has been earthed. Turns out, tap-dancing in doorways while your boyfriend plays the ukulele does not a marriage make. If the film has a message, it might be that love at first sight is, if not always a chimera, a fragile thing when required to fuel an entire life together.

Blue Valentine's biggest strength is undoubtedly its performances, with Williams and Gosling both utterly convincing, if not necessarily likeable. Williams plays Cindy as a woman in the process of withdrawing from life's disappointments and lumbered with the task of being the one to face facts and articulate the cruel truth that she and Dean are unable to make one another happy. Gosling's only flaw is perhaps his considerable charm, which initially weights things in Dean's favour, when in fact, he's as culpable - or, looked at another way, as blameless - as Cindy for this couple's inability to sustain each other.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, Mike Vogel
  • Photographer: Andrij Parekh

In a nutshell

An impressionistic post-mortem of a relationship gone awry, this is a rarely cheery but carefully crafted look at flawed and all-too human behaviour, worth seeing for Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling's sincere, intelligent performances.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Endless Love

    Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde star in this romantic drama directed by Shana Feste.

  • Film4

    Northern Soul

    Elliot James Langridge and Josh Whitehouse star in writer-director Elaine Constantine's coming-of-age drama.

  • Film4

    Wanderlust on Film4

    Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd star in Film4's first play of Wanderlust.

  • Film4

    Blue Ruin on Film4

    Jeremy Saulniers darkly comic, gripping Blue Ruin plays for the first time on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Watch On TV

1:00AM
Fri 09 Dec

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share