"Blue Valentine" is a film about a couple on the verge of a meltdown, with emotions as raw as the sexuality. The strength of this bittersweet story lies in the care and passion with which it's told.
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give all-stops-out performances that feel so real, you forget they're acting. It's puzzling that only Williams was given an Oscar nomination.
The film opens with the pair going through the motions of a marriage, and you can feel a long-building tension between them. It's almost a shock to see them in flashback six years ago to when they first met, when everything was charming instead of irritating. He's a happy, freewheeling sort of guy. She's drawn to that and to his heartfelt emotions, but has her own dreams of being a doctor and getting away from her overbearing dad.
Their loving intentions prove to be not enough — life keeps changing, and at the end of the day we may not know why the relationship went wrong. It just did. And that's a real heartbreak.