BLUE VALENTINE  By Gary Murray Starring Michelle Williams Ryan Gosling and John Doman Written by Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne Directed by Derek Cianfrance Running time 120 min MPAA Rating R Selig Film Rating Matinee There have been relationship dramas since the beginnings of the cinema. Stories of love, won and lost, have been the basic staple of story-telling, on stage and on film, almost since the start of fiction. The ongoing struggle to discover the illusive spark that is love and how to keep the flaying flame going is one of the Ids of man. the latest to make the attempt is Blue Valentine. It takes a very independent path and works most of the time. Dean (Ryan Gosling and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a couple trying to rekindle their love. The film jumps around cross-cutting between the years, showing the couple from their awkward first meeting to the last moments of the tattered relationship. In this way we see both the hopeful beginnings mashed against the shattered remains. We see the birth of their child and how it affects them in opposite ways. They try and rekindle their relationship in a seedy fantasy hotel, a move that comes across as both comic and pathetic. Others come into the couples' life, but the biggest problem is the direction of the couple. Where Cindy wants more out of life, Dean seems contend to trudge along with a low paying job a wife and daughter.  This is the most impressive role that Michelle Williams has delivered. In a short career that has some major peaks, her Cindy is a mountain of a portrayal. She is as honest as a lightening bolt, thundering down on the cinematic canvas. Raw and unnerving, this is a role that the Academy just love to pour accolades over.  Ryan Gosling never matches Michelle here. He seems to be hiding behind the tricks of costume and make-up to show the changing nature of his character. He explodes at times, giving potential rivals harsh bloody beatings but it never feels real. It is a nice attempt but an awkward execution.  Derek Cianfrance left much to be desired with his direction. While he captures the ups and downs of the relationship, he misses on the technical aspects of the film. It looks purposefully ugly, giving the entire experience a dark and gritty look. He takes the screenplay that he co-wrote and pulls no punches in the harshness of the relationship between these two crossed lovers.  The entire exercise of Blue Valentine is just brutal.  Blue Valentine is a hard film to watch but is an honest film. It is the kind of film that will cause discussions between couples and may be the instigation of more than one fight. For those who want to grab hold of an exposed emotional wire, this is your flick.

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