Blue Valentine is a movie about two halves of a relationship: the first moment you fall in love with someone, and the realization that comes when everything is over and there's no chance of recovery. This is an extremely painful film with undeniably powerful performances from both Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. They go through both physical and emotional transformations during the five year period of the film: Williams from shy and adorable to cranky, dour and 15 pounds heavier, and Gosling shifts from charming blue-collar loverboy to disconnected father with a receding hairline.

The story is nothing new: boy meets girl and then loses girl, but this is about what takes place between the cracks. Relationships might begin virtually overnight, but it takes time for them to die, and that's where Blue Valentine turns tragic. Told in flashbacks from when they first meet to the death throes of their love, both the pounding heart moments and the bottom of your stomach falling out moments are here. When the story opens, Dean (Gosling) is awoken by his daughter Frankie (the adorable six-year-old Faith Wladyka), who tells him their dog Megan is missing. They go off to briefly look for her and return as Cindy (Williams) is fixing breakfast.