As Tolstoy famously began Anna Karenina
, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Director Derek Cianfrance’s drama Blue Valentine
probes the death throes of a marriage that’s become so singularly and uniquely unhappy that it will unsettle viewers with its frankness.
The film jumps back and forth in time during the relationship of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), who meet, fall in love, sacrifice for each other, and eventually become toxic for and to each other. A large chunk of the film’s action takes place in “The Future Room,” an outer-space-themed hotel room the two visit -- at Dean’s...