Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in this emotional drama about a couple falling in and out of love. The film switches back and forth between present day, when the couple is struggling to keep their relationship afloat, and flashbacks of happier times when they first met.
This isn’t new ground, and very similar films have been made before. (‘Revolutionary Road’ comes to mind, but ‘Blue Valentine’ is much more real. But there’s also a great film no one saw from 2009 called ‘Peter and Vandy’ with virtually the same story and technique.) But let’s face it, there’s nothing new under the sun, and sometimes it just comes down to how real and engaging the characters are. And in this case, they’re very real and very engaging. I’ve always been a bit skeptical about Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as actors, but I shouldn’t be because they consistently surprise me. And they definitely nailed these characters. The arguments felt so real that it was like I was spying on a real couple in the privacy of their home. And that was uncomfortable at times. But I think making the audience uncomfortable is what the film is trying to do.
When I saw the film it was rated NC-17 due to some explicit sexual scenes, but there was a lot of talk of cutting it down to meet an R rating. (Of course, if a film has extreme violence, it can still easily secure an R, but include one somewhat graphic sex scene and the MPAA slaps it with an NC-17. Ridiculous.)
Some couples may be hesitant to watch this. And certainly if they do see it, there will be some uncomfortable discussion afterwards. But I found it to be very fulfilling and very well done, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gosling and Williams end up getting some award nominations.