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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Blue Valentine': An Atmospheric and Incisive Depiction of a Distressed Modern Marriage

Movie poster for the film Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

Blue Valentine (2010) is an atmospheric and affecting American drama starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as Dean and Cindy, a working-class couple residing in rural Pennsylvania. Following a nonlinear narrative, the storyline shifts to-and-fro, from their early days of courtship to their present state of disrepair seven years later.

First encountering one another at the retirement home of Cindy's grandmother, Dean and Cindy enjoy a period of richness and romance—high school dropout Dean effectively charming Cindy the dedicated pre-med student. When Cindy becomes pregnant, the true biological father a distressing ambiguity, Dean embraces the opportunity to marry her and father a young girl named Frankie (Faith Wladyka). Seven years later, the luster has dissolved from their relationship entirely, Cindy particularly disenchanted with their union. With Frankie the link that tenuously holds the two together, Dean yearns to maintain any semblance of a viable family life.

Co-written and directed by American filmmaker Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines, The Light Between Oceans) Blue Valentine is a a somber yet often stirring depiction of familial disrepair. The decay of the central relationship is delivered with stunning sincerity, Gosling and Williams breathing life into their roles with remarkable competency. The storyline's before-and-after framework provides a candid and thought-provoking take on disunion, helping to realize one of the more honest portraitures of domestic deterioration in modern cinema.


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