Blue Valentine

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(2010) ★★★

Channel 4: Sunday 28 June, 12.50am

The fireworks for blue-collar Pennsylvania couple Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have fizzled out. Their relationship – so tender at the outset – is on the rocks. Director Derek Cianfrance takes an anti-cinematic documentary approach (up close and fuzzy focused like a video diary) to a story familiar from Nashville to Nuneaton. Actors love playing regular folks (and both leads are exceptional) but this love story with sex scenes is neither as raw as it imagines nor in any way original: Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood, for example, followed the same path in Love With the Proper Stranger in the early 60s. Despite Gosling strumming the ukelele while singing (sort of) You Always Hurt the One You Love, at least it’s never as fey as 500 Days of Summer. And it’s romantic enough to include a shot of a rainbow. In the end, the song that really fuels this heartfelt film is an old Motown hit by Diana Ross and the Supremes: “Baby, baby, baby… where did our love go?” In 2012, frowny-faced Gosling reunited with director Cianfrance for The Place Beyond the Pines, less romantic and even more lugubrious at greater length.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 112min