FLOUNDERING: Young married couple Dean (Ryan Gosling, left) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are falling out of love without the aid of betrayal, deception or life change. PHOTO BY DAVI RUSSO. © 2010 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Blue Valentine

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Marriage is a juicy topic for filmmakers, but few movies get made about happy ones. More common is the dissection of a once-happy union that is coming apart at the seams. The reasons for its demise usually involve such dramatic standbys as infidelity, illness or death, though a few directors with a more pronounced tragic vision have upped the ante by zeroing in on festering hatred (think John Cassa­vetes) or gut-wrenching psychological cruelty (a specialty of Ingmar Bergman).

Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine is also about the last gasps of a once-happy marriage, but there is a surprising lack of heavy dramatic conflict at its core. In the six years that Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) have been together, there hasn't been any ugly betrayal, big lie or major life change. Instead, all of the pressure is coming from within: they are six years older than when they first took their vows, and one of them has changed more than the other.

 

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