The story of a couple falling out of love as juxtaposed to how they fell in love.
This movie hit me like an emotional wrecking ball – it was powerful in both story and performance. It was very voyeuristic – as the narrative was unfolding more as the characters blossomed as opposed to a very clear point A to point B story. The story was told from present day where Dean and Cindy are on the rocks – and in flashbacks of how they met and fell in love.
It was both equally heartwarming and heartbreaking – very much rooted in the visceral emotional journey of the characters. The performances were incredibly gutsy – both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams felt as though they were living out their lives in sorts in front of the camera as opposed to portraying characters.
The only thing I felt the movie lacked was a middle – but the film was about how passionately and quickly people can fall in love and many years later – the slow withdrawal into falling out. It’s also a testament to the performances and direction – that since they were so intense in their portrayal – the middle part was a strong curiosity. As a viewer you are meant to question how they fell apart – and the question arises literally in the film “is this you?” – and you are meant to wonder – could this happen to anyone.
I really liked the direction of Derek Cianfrance – it wasn’t flashy or there to tell the story – it was there to present the characters – and through those characters the story was told. I watched the fluff “making of” feature on the blu-ray – which usually amounts of a bunch of press junket interviews where the actors, director and producers pat themselves on the back (and there was plenty of that) – but Cianfrance also revealed how this story had evolved by discussing the characters over a period of 6-years with both Gosling and Williams. That kind of preparation could easily make a story stale – but there’s really nothing stale about this film. It was fresh full of life – full of emotion – and it certainly seemed like a very cathartic experience for Cianfrance.
I wondered as I was watching the film – that since I found Dean to be a sympathetic character – and Cindy a bit colder (in the present day falling out of love portions) that if I watched it with my girl if she’d find Cindy to be a more sympathetic character and be able to identify more with her plight. It just feels that well-crafted emotionally that it would seem that if I took a different approach I could find either character to be equally as sympathetic.
Gosling and Williams have both become such phenomenal actors – I’m excited to see their careers continue to blossom. They are bold and daring – and fearless in their roles. Though I wonder with how bold these performances were – what more was going to make this an NC-17 film? I would like to see that original cut – if there was one – or if it was just Hollywood politics trying to label it as too strong.
If I had my way – I’d go back and make it the co-captain of my BEST OF 2010 roster along with SCOTT PILGRIM – as they were equally outstanding in their own rights - and now both seem intrical to my movie collection.