Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams) met at a retirement home, when Dean was working as a mover and Cindy was studying medicine at university. In an almost classic nod to the ‘boy-meets-girl’ romances of Hollywood, their relationship began with the speed of any young romance; cute looks shared in the warm light of street lamps. The way the story is intercut with their future makes these scenes even more impassioned than in any cliché romance. Dean meets Cindy’s parents – who don’t exactly approve of him – and Cindy tries to end the other relationship she was in at the time. She becomes pregnant, and after a rash wedding the couple decide to start a family and a life together. This prelude story of sorts is told entirely through flashbacks while the real time of the film tells two days in the couple’s lives at the climactic moment before the crashing fall of their relationship. They have reached the point at which the attractions of younger romance no longer exist, Cindy has become sick of Dean’s insistent smothering and minor drinking problem, as well as his underachieving life as a house painter.
Gosling and Williams are gifted young actors, and both show understanding of their respective roles. Doug and Cindy’s relationship feels so real because Derek Cianfrance writes with realism in mind, and the cast seem highly dedicated to producing as genuine a film about love as possible. An intriguing and deeply interesting film, Blue Valentine is a contemporary romantic drama which maps the first six years of a couple’s marriage through flashback, as well as witnessing the marriage’s almost inevitable collapse. The movie asks audiences to question the concept of love at first sight, as Doug and Cindy did love each other at one point, but that is no longer the case. They have reached the stage where we wonder why they ever got married. Different audiences will associate themselves with different characters, making the interpretation of the film a different experience depending upon your perspective.