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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Blue Valentine

Wretched and beautiful, devastating and passionate. From the simple premise of juxtaposing the beginning and end of a relationship, this film takes you to the giddy heights of new love through to the yawning abyss of loss.
By Alice Tynan
December 05, 2010
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By Alice Tynan
December 05, 2010
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Wretched and beautiful, devastating and passionate, Blue Valentine evokes every inch of its title's dichotomy. From the simple premise of juxtaposing the beginning and end of a relationship, the film takes you to the giddy heights of new love through to the yawning abyss of loss. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are Cindy and Dean, two people from opposite sides of the tracks who gleefully succumb to love at first sight, though this courtship plays out alongside an altogether different point of view of their marriage, some six years later. In lesser hands this cross-cutting might have seemed trite, but writer-director Derek Cianfrance rather appropriately achieves the polar opposite.

In the past, Cindy and Dean meet — their youthful exuberance leaping off the screen. While in the present, a seething discontent emanates from Cindy whereas Dean opts for blase, and horsing around with their gorgeous daughter Frankie (Faith Wladyka). But when the pair winds up with an unforeseen night alone, Dean presses Cindy to visit a gimmicky motel and opts, ominously, for the 'future room'.

Like the cross-cutting, Cianfrance works this conceit with a deft touch. The neon blue hues of the future room are captured on the RED camera and clash perfectly with the warm red tones of the past, shot handheld on super 16mm. Similarly each vignette is superbly crafted, with the screenplay and editing ensuring every juxtaposition pays off for the audience, while the soundtrack by Grizzly Bear provides a musical throughline that ties the film together.

Williams and Gosling convince absolutely as both halves of this Blue Valentine. Williams succeeds her stripped down performance from Wendy & Lucy, and though his young Dean shares a faint resemblance to Noah from The Notebook, Gosling is able to temper that earnestness with deeper emotional tones and some stark, poignant questioning.

"You always hurt the ones you love," Dean serenades Cindy in one of the film's moving portents. It's a testament to the power of Blue Valentine that this hurt extends to the audience, for watching these two cinematic slow dances of hope and heartache is to experience it all for yourself.

Palace Cinemas is holding advanced screenings of Blue Valentine on Wednesday 8th December and Sunday 19th December. Visit their website for more details.

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