'Blue Valentine' sometimes is its own undoing

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give fearless performances in Blue Valentine, a gritty and uncompromising exploration of a contemporary relationship.

The film shifts between two periods of the couple's time together — the beginning of the romance, when Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams, an Oscar nominee in the role) meet, to a few years later, when they are married, facing money worries and are parents of a young girl (Faith Wladyka).

Dean is a bit of a dreamer who carries a ukulele around, happy to have someone to love. While a worker and provider, he has little ambition, which begins to bother his wife. And so after six years together, he and Cindy, a nurse trying to get a promotion, find themselves moving in different directions.

The film, which took 12 years for writer-director Derek Cianfrance to bring to the screen, is too shifting in focus to be engrossing, though there are some moments between the actors that are riveting.

Falling in and out of love can be an inarticulate and inconsistent experience in real life, but translating that to the screen doesn't necessarily ring true.

Blue Valentine retails for $29.98 or $39.99 Blu-ray.