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Mike Dunn's Reviews - Blue Valentine

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Blue Valentine tells two timelines of a couple, Dan and Cindy (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams), as they romance each other and get together, and the dissolution of their marriage several years later. During their relationship, they have a daughter, Frankie, and for fear of raising her in a broken home, Dean tries to reignite his marriage.

The film was absolutely heart-breaking and engrossing in every aspect. It is easy to tell that every look given by the actors and the framing of every shot has been considered and thought over by director Derek Cianfrance, and since the film had been in production since 2003, Cianfrance has had plenty of opportunity. The story is very well-structured and the split storyline, despite being initially confusing, compliments the film increasingly towards the end of the film. For example, Dean plays a song to Cindy as he tries to cheer her up in the present storyline but fails in even making her smile, and a few minutes later, we see the song becoming 'Their Song' in the past storyline, making the significance apparant as well as a tad upsetting.

Even though the story is a large contributor to the film's overall special quality, the impressive main leads help bring the story to life.

Ryan Gosling has got to be one of the finest actors of our generation. Big words I know, but I have yet to see him put in a performance that isn't totally committed. Many females in the audience tonight will mainly remember Gosling for his role as Noah in 2004's The Notebook. However he first grabbed my attention, as well as shot to the forefront of the critical circles, in 2006 when he starred as a drug-addict high school teacher in Half Nelson. He then carried on his impressive resume with Lars and the Real Girl in 2007. His acting style is very muted and realistic and this often-mistaken-for-Ryan Reynolds actor is definitely one to watch when he finally breaks into the mainstream, following the trails of actors such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy.

Michelle Williams on the other hand, I am not so familiar with. I knew of her when I was younger due to my sister's love of Dawson's Creek, but unfortunately recently I knew of her for merely being Heath Ledger's widow. However more recently, she did give an amazingly chilling performance in Scorsese's Shutter Island last year, and she continues on her good form with another impressive Oscar-nominated performance in Valentine. Only a small role, but Faith Wladyka playing the couple's young daughter Frankie was a treat to watch too.

The film may be a tad upsetting and depressing if you choose it as a 'date movie' but the realism is what gives the film such a surprising and refreshing edge. Relationships do break down in real life and anyone who has suffered through a split can identify with one of the main characters, if not both. You live through their lives as they find love and despair, and due to the effective soundtrack, emotive cinematography and brilliant performances by the entire cast, you truly feel for these characters. That is a sign of a carefully-constructed love-story and definitely worth a watch, regardless of your relationship status. Just maybe not on Valentine's Day.

Rating - 9/10

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