Far from cracking even my unconventional top five Valentineâ€™s Day movie list, â€œBlue Valentineâ€ follows the Tennysonian motto, â€œit is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.â€
Through a series of flashbacks, the film retraces the unmaking of the relationship between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy, (Michelle Williams) a couple that gets started off on the wrong foot when Cindy finds out she is pregnant by another man.
Dean does not want a family, but circumstances go beyond his control and he is roped into a situation that is doomed from the start.
Although the content rating decisions of the Motion Picture Association of America are unquestionably controversial, it is understandable that they initially placed an â€œNC-17â€ rating on â€œBlue Valentine.â€
Not because there is too much mature content in the film, but because the lead acting performances are so solid that when things start to go sour in the coupleâ€™s relationship, it feels like something all too close to reality and is ultimately hard to watch.
One particularly effective scene from the film that will stick with me for a while is when Dean and Cindy are on their first date, singing and dancing to the Ryan Gosling rendition of â€œYou always hurt the one you love.â€
The two are standing outside of a store with a heart-shaped wreath hanging on the door, crooning to their own impending fate, â€œYou always hurt the ones you love/ The ones you shouldnâ€™t hurt at all/ You always take the sweetest rose/ And crush it until the petals fall.â€
And even though the audience has a sense of what the filmâ€™s flashbacks are leading up to, there is no way to stave off the overwhelming despair.
â€œBlue Valentineâ€ is rated R for authentically relating the ups and downs of a relationship.
Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonberlinberg.