Cindy (Williams) is clearly feeling strained in her marriage. Dean (Gosling) is a loving husband and a great dad to their lively daughter (Wladyka), but she can no longer cope with his lack of ambition as he settles for blue-collar work rather than developing his musical talent. A last-gasp weekend at a themed hotel isn't looking very promising either, but they make a real attempt to sort things out. Their issues go back to events before they even met, and it'll take a lot for Cindy to change her mind.
Woven into this central narrative are flashback scenes of the early days of the relationship, from their first meeting to their wedding. And while these events are sometimes difficult as well, the strong romantic bond between them is thoroughly endearing. Watching them joke, play and fall in love, we learn things about both of them that inform what happens later. And it's played with telling insight by both Williams and Gosling, who travel into some very dark corners along the way.
Director-cowriter Cianfrance shoots the film with a bracing sense of intimacy, using close-ups and point of view to maximum effect. The rich colour scheme of the family's home is in stark contrast to the hotel getaway, where they stay in the hilarious "future room", a cheesy windowless room that looks like a spaceship from the 1950s. In other words, a fantasy past rather than a hopeful future.
The script is especially revealing, as it emphasises the chasm between what these people want and the frightening reality they are struggling to avoid. As Cindy puts it, "How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear?" No, this isn't a cheery film at all, and it's pretty clear from the start that a smiley happy ending isn't on the cards for these people. Although like them we are rooting for a positive solution, however difficult it might be.
Run time: 112 mins
In Theaters: Monday 27th December 2010
Box Office USA: $9.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $12.4M
Budget: $1000 thousand
Distributed by: Weinstein Company
Production compaines: Cottage Industries, Incentive Filmed Entertainment, Silverwood Films, Hunting Lane Films, Chrysler Corporation, Shade Pictures, Motel Movies
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 167 Rotten: 24
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Producer: Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky, Jamie Patricof
Screenwriter: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Starring: Ryan Gosling as Dean, Michelle Williams as Cindy, Mike Vogel as Bobby, John Doman as Jerry, Faith Wladyka as Frankie, Marshall Johnson as Marshall, Jen Jones as Gramma, Maryann Plunkett as Glenda, James Benatti as Jamie, Barbara Troy as Jo, Carey Westbrook as Charley, Ben Shenkman as Dr. Feinberg, Eileen Rosen as Mimi, Enid Graham as Professor, Ashley Gurnari as Checker