With such talented actors, it's almost uncomfortable how genuine the on-screen couple (Dean and Cindy) argue and interact. Their relationship is gritty as they take stabs at each other and then try to smooth over the wounds. As characters, they are so tragic from the moment the appear on screen; maybe it has something to do with Ryan Gosling's unforgettable character in The Notebook, or Michelle Williams' real-life loss of ex-lover Heath Ledger? Either way, they are both heart wrenching.
In the movie, the couple's past is a picture of infatuation from Dean's side and desperation from Cindy's. While Dean lacks the ambition for personal success, Cindy has plenty, but is missing the affection for her husband that she never had to begin with. It's an intense and emotional film that can be summed up in a line from Ryan Gosling's serenade: "You always hurt the ones you love".
Watching Blue Valentine is like hearing a sad song that makes you tear up, and then putting it on repeat: satisfying in a masochistic way.
Speaking of music, the soundtrack is noteworthy, so be sure to download some Grizzly Bear for the best Brooklyn-based folk rock you've never listened to.