Actors shine in ‘Blue Valentine’

Jeff Ishuninov

Strong performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams highlight a controversial marital story in “Blue Valentine.”

Multiple nominations in different film festivals and award ceremonies, including the Golden Globes, made “Blue Valentine” one of the most talked about movies of 2010. Director Derek Cianfrance, who is not well known among most moviegoers, will most certainly put his name on the map of Hollywood’s most promising directors.

The movie made the headlines last year when it was announced that it would receive a rare NC-17 rating due to a violent sex scene.  Yet before it was released in theaters, the rating was changed to R.

“Blue Valentine” is the story of a couple that is going through one of the most difficult times of their relationship. Dean and Cindy, played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, are portrayed in past and present moments of their lives. They are a couple struggling to keep their marriage together for the sake of their daughter. While the audience wonders whether love and passion are in the past or the future of this family, the emotional rollercoaster doesn’t stop till the last minute of the film.

Depressing to a point and thought provoking, it’s not your average love story. You get to see a relationship at its worst, and “Blue Valentine” displays what most people try to hide or keep private: their personal secrets, mistakes, failures and inability to reach the goals they once had. Love gives us strength to overcome obstacles, but if it goes away or perhaps was never there for at least one person in a relationship, how long before it all falls apart? If you leave, you are selfish.  If you stay, you’re most likely just postponing the inevitable. It is hard to make a choice, especially when the future of a child is in your hands.

Critically acclaimed performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams will not disappoint you, but don’t seem original either. Both actors at one point of their career already had similar roles. Gentle, passionate and romantic Gosling in “The Notebook” seems similar to this character, while Williams played a stressed-out and hurt wife in “Brokeback Mountain.” Gosling seems to show a wider range of emotions, while Williams stays more consistent throughout the movie.

Cianfrance shows us the thin line between love and hatred, and how certain choices might lead in the opposite direction of an intended route. Many sensitive issues are depicted in this movie, including abortion, family violence, infidelity, etc. Cianfrance lets you decide whose side you are on, if there is a right or wrong side, because even the best intentions sometimes end up being the worst decisions.

**** out of 5