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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams | R |


Forget the NC-17 rating originally slapped on this movie, because the sex is hardly the rawest thing about it. Blue Valentine is the exposed, throbbing wound of a failing marriage, featuring characters that don’t so much develop as devolve. It’s depressing, painful and made all the more visceral by the stunningly naturalistic Gosling and Williams. All of which is to say that it’s a beautifully acted film that may nevertheless ruin your day.

Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Gosling) check into a silly theme motel to try to rekindle whatever love they once had. A night of flashbacks and heavy drinking reveals the genesis of their affection-and of their eventual breakup. He was always fractious and she was always easily bored, but darn, love makes you blind. The tight focus on them, them, them can make Blue Valentine feel more like an acting exercise than a complete film, but what a master class in performance it is.