Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance is best known as a documentarian and his beautifully crafted "hate story" Blue Valentine has the rawness of real life, which is what makes it nearly impossible to watch. Cianfrance directs Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, both riveting in their roles as a young couple who should be neither married nor parents but they are and are in torments. Told with a fluid, time-shifting narrative line, Blue Valentine delineates with documentary clarity where the innocent romance between these two damaged people began to unravel -- and it was almost immediately after they met. Williams is indeed spectacular, and Oscar-worthy, as the conflicted enabler Cindy, who has nothing left to give to a man she thought she loved but now loathes beyond speech. One particularly sickening moment comes late in the film when Gosling's Dean -- an irredeemable, self-serving narcissist who has been dipped in charm -- tries to embrace Cindy in her father's kitchen as hollow gesture of reconciliation. She whimpers and cringes during the embrace and her revulsion oozes off the screen. It's a devastating moment in a truly powerful film.

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