Blue Valentine

Rated 3.0

Indie golden boy director Derek Cianfrance returns to narrative features with a vaguely pretentious and perhaps needlessly nonlinear narrative of a working-class (yet suspiciously hipsterish) marriage in decay. Co-writing with Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne, and nodding to John Cassavetes, Cianfrance wants to rebuke standard-issue movie glamour with bracing emotional authenticity. Stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams very clearly are on board, giving all they’ve got to their many bravely intimate close-ups. But as their characters progress from a cutesy ukulele-intensive courtship to the savage quagmire of recriminations, such progress seems to occur only because it must in order to have a movie (not that drama motivated solely by the need for drama is so off-base in a film about young people in a troubled relationship). In the end, the heart still aches, and the surety of the director’s style is self-validating.