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Blue Valentine


Stars: Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Thought there's much to appreciate in the acting, there's little else to admire about this stultifying study of a marriage gone sour. The dialogue is annoyingly 'naturalistic', and slightly overlapping at times, while the narrative jumps confusingly back and forward.

Says Williams of her film parents: 'I know they must have loved each other once', an adage which applies all too soon to her own marriage, although a doctor (her) and a removal man would hardly seem to have been ideally balanced from the start.

Soon enough, they are at each other's throats, both intolerant of the other, and unable to avoid 'scenes', which escalate quickly. Some people might level a charge of immaturity, though their clear unsuitability (at least once she has achieved her ambition in life) is probably the deciding factor.

Williams has the woman buttoned downed down to the nth degree, and could be in line for an Oscar nomination to add to the one she received for Brokeback Mountain. Gosling, on the other hand, although also good, has trouble reconciling the younger and older versions of his character: the darkening of his hair and growing a droopy moustache not so much ages him as almost transforms him into someone else entirely. And we have little sympathy for these people whose problems are largely of their own making.

The sex scenes which have grabbed some headlines are not as extreme as you might expect from the publicity. Colour schemes for various periods of the couple's life don't really work.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Optimum. Technicolor.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 08 Jan 2011