Mr. Movie

Acting in 'Blue Valentine' sells it

Blue Valentine details the break-up of a marriage.

Michelle Williams is Cindy. Ryan Gosling does Dean. Early in the film you learn the marriage is fragile and on the brink. That’s tough. An easier view are the trips into the past where you discover how they met, fell in love and married.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

One of the great strengths of director Derek Cianfrance’s film is tension that is palpable. Ratcheting up the difficulty of watching the implosion is an inability to like either of the main characters. You relate to, and even like the couple in the past but not in the present.

Cianfrance and his co-writers never quite connect you to them.

Blue Valentine is tough to watch. In our own lives, we’ve all seen too much of the destruction of relationships and family. For a lot of us, this experience is our own. Plus, the disintegration of a marriage is personal. At times, you feel like an intruder; an eavesdropper on conversations you aren’t meant to hear.

That is on purpose. It adds to your discomfort. Credit goes to Cianfrance’s vision — if you can call it that — and to two great, emerging actors giving gut-wrenching and convincing performances.

She’s disconnected and distant. He’s desperate.

The acting is what carries Blue Valentine. Williams got an Oscar nomination. Gosling should have. Both actors let it all hang out. Their performances are personal and packed with pain. The decisions they make hurt.

If break-up movies are your thing, it works. Maybe too well.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language, nudity. It opens Friday, Feb. 4 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.