There have been a lot of movies about falling in love, but few have tackled falling out of love quite like “Blue Valentine.”
This is a powerful little film that got a lot of year-end attention and garnered an Oscar nomination for lead actress Michelle Williams. It is well worth your time when it opens this weekend in Bowling Green.
Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, “Blue Valentine” tells the story of a young, working-class married couple named Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Williams).
Dean is a high school dropout working as a painter, while Cindy is a nurse in a medical clinic who is not satisfied with her current life. About the only thing they have in common is their love for their young daughter.
From the opening scenes it is obvious this marriage is in its final stages. As the audience watches the relationship crumble, Cianfrance uses flashbacks to show how the couple met.
Gosling and Williams are both outstanding here, with a perfect chemistry that works in both the flashbacks and the present-day scenes.
Their powerful performances are accentuated by a film that doesn’t take sides, showing a pair of likable - yet flawed - characters.
I really appreciated the writing as well, which is honest and believable. It is, at times, difficult to watch because it feels so real, but Cianfrance inserts just enough humor to make the material more palpable.
The shifting narrative also creates a perfect balance that captures the entire spectrum of the relationship, allowing the audience to see the signs of a marriage that was doomed from the beginning.
“Blue Valentine” isn’t an easy film to watch, heartbreaking yet beautiful. This is a film that doesn’t have the answers, but that approach makes it all the more compelling.
Also opening this week
Another Oscar hopeful that finally arrives in Bowling Green this weekend is “127 Hours” (A-), director Danny Boyle’s successful follow-up to “Slumdog Millionaire” that features a great performance by Oscar nominee James Franco.
Based on a true story, Franco plays Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone in the Moab desert. Stuck for five days, Ralston eventually escaped by cutting off his arm.
It’s a gruesome end, but one that doesn’t really exploit the incident quite like you might expect.
“127 Hours” is more about Ralston’s will to survive and how that will was tested during the grueling five days alone. Franco brings that struggle to light with one of the best performances of the year. He is funny and free-spirited, yet scared and reflective as the ordeal drags on. The recent release “Buried” showed how hard it is to remain interested in essentially a one-character film set in a confined space, but Franco is up to the challenge.
Franco is aided by tight direction from Boyle, who pulls out all the stops - including flashbacks and dream sequences - to put the audience into the situation and keep it interesting.
The visual sparks reminded me of his work in “Trainspotting” and really emphasized how good Boyle can be when he has the right material.
Like “Blue Valentine,” this is a challenging piece of work, but one that should be seen before Oscar night.
“127 Hours” is rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images and opens Friday at the Greenwood Mall 10.