Blue Valentine

January 30, 2011 - A young couple makes a last-ditch, doomed-to-fail attempt to save their marriage in this film shot largely in Northeast Pennsylvania. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star.

Gosling is Dean and Williams is Cindy. They live with their young daughter, Frankie, in what amounts to little more than a mobile home. As the movie opens, the family dog has run away and Dean quickly blames Cindy for not locking the gate. She doesn't have time for this as she has to drop Frankie at school and then get to her job at a doctor's office. Dean, meanwhile, has his morning beer then heads to work as a painter. Through flashbacks, we see how Dean and Cindy met and how they had a red-hot attraction to each other. Now, especially on Cindy's part, there's barely a spark left.

Overall review: *** Probably more like 2.5, but I'll round up. I'll admit that I devoted a large part of my attention to trying to figure out where in the Scranton area some scenes were shot. Mostly, it was difficult because the filmmakers seemed to go to a lot of trouble to make sure that any identifying landmarks were either obscured or left out of the frame.

One reason for eliminating background may have been the choice to use constant close-ups of the characters in order to, I suppose, draw us into each of the main characters. In that regard, the technique works. Cindy and Dean each have a clearly defined position on the relationship and on life in general, and we understand where each of them is coming from. But, how they got there is a bit of a mystery. We know how they started, and we know where they ended. But, the middle is left out so we don't really have a sense of how long it REALLY took to get to the end. What we're left with, mostly, is a movie about two people who should have never gotten married in the first place.