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An Awesome Heartbreak Movie



The problem with most movies about the ultimate failure of relationships is that emotional reality takes a back seat to entertainment value: The liberally applied sugar-coating is distracting and makes the drama appear false. The gripping new movie Blue Valentine (trailer here) is a marvelous exception. There is no sugar-coating, the heartbreak feels real, and what sweetness there is is realized in flashbacks interspersed with the narrative of the breakup. The benefit of the flashback structure is that it makes clear that the years of love and hope were every bit as real as the days of pain and anger; the love had real value even if it is now lost. Ryan Gosling, whose work in other films I have admired, is convincing as the goofily romantic husband with a drinking problem; Michelle Williams, who is rather new to me, is stunning as the (only somewhat) more realistic small-town girl who marries him. The two stars co-produced the movie, and it leaves the impression of a genuine labor of love. The film deserves to become a classic. (NB: The sex is more graphic than in most mainstream movies, so the movie is not appropriate for all audiences. But this factor certainly does add to the feeling the viewer has of watching a high-wire act — much, come to think of it, like the experiences of love and heartbreak themselves.)


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