I had been meaning to watch this movie since the Oscars, but it just didn’t get screened in time. Sadly, no one nominated from this movie won anything, but that’s okay. In this case, being nominated is an honor and it deserved to be.
Now, to those who follow the movie trades like I do, you know there was some controversy with this film due to it’s sex scenes. And there are a handful of them, but I remember the arguments and the filmmakers pleaded to keep an R-rating or else they would lose the chance at being played in American theaters. All of this is another story and better explained by a film called This Film is Not Yet Rated. But having seen the scenes in question, I agree for storytelling and artistic sake that they shouldn’t have been cut. My reason is as follows…
This movie delivered a sense of honesty and realness I don’t think I’ve seen in a while. Granted, I haven’t really watched too many movies lately, but the majority of the time while watching this film, I didn’t feel like I was watching a film. This felt real, like these were people that lived around the corner real. I can’t relate firsthand to a lot of the issues these characters were facing, but I know people that have and in a way, I was able to take a walk in their shoes. In fact, I got stuck in the mud with their shoes and had a hard time getting out.
The movie is about a married couple trying to figure out their relationship. It looks and feels bleak for them as they take a night away from their young daughter to spend in a couples-themed hotel to get away after their family dog dies. We learn through flashbacks of sorts who they are, or who they once were, before they met and the beginning of their relationship while flashing forward to what feels like a downward spiral.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams totally bring it when it comes to acting in this film. I’ve seen them act in other movies and to be honest, I would love to see them in comedies. They have done well in so many dramas, I need to laugh. But back to their work in this movie, I believed they were married. In fact, I know that the director had them all living together for awhile to build on that chemistry. I say it worked.
I spoke with friends about this film, one recommended it, the other was hesitant to, because of the serious nature. One friend called it “midnight dark” and saying it was darker than Requiem of a Dream which, many friends of mine know, is a movie I find to be the darkest of dark and very disturbing. One of the few films I don’t ever want to watch again. But I’m considering the source of why he said it’s that dark, and I believe it’s because he’s a family man, with a wife and a handful of beautiful kids. And to see this family breakdown is something that a loving father, husband, wife, mother would never want to see happen in reality. So that, in turn, could equal something very dark indeed.
As for me, it’s definitely saddening. It didn’t reach the level of Requiem but I was emotionally affected. I agree with my friend that it’s a difficult movie to recommend to people. Maybe people who like Lifetime movies. On top of that, due to it’s subject, it didn’t get a lot publicity, other than the battle with the MPAA and the Oscars soon after.
With all that said, it’s not a movie for the kids. I wouldn’t take a date to see this. But if you want to see a movie with some serious acting (and writing and directing, those qualities were top notch too) then this is a movie to see. For those weak at heart, have a box of tissues handy and maybe some cartoons after.
You nailed it. I am a father and a husband and some of the simple things in this movie haunt my very soul….NO EXAGGERATION…
Me and my wife, have NEVER gotten bad to this point and I pray to God that we never do, however there are things that they go so right about how a married argument can have a pull on an entire day and spiral down to the abyss. No I have never, punched her boss but that is probably because our arguments aren’t laced with hangovers and alchol.
Some of the most painful things in this film are not the extra dramatic scenes but some simple things that literally made me squirm in my seat, for example when she won’t kiss him in the shower, and all he wants is one kiss or for her to turn around and notice he is there, she ignores him until he is damn near on top of her…OUCH, OUCH FREAKING OUCH.
Mr. Watson I am telling you, that is one of the worst things that can happen in a marriage, when your wife does not want to touch you….and the way they display it is both perfection and a sword to the liver.
In addition the sex scene, (without going into too many details) she wants him to be “rough” and he objects, he just wants to be tender….that hurts too, when your wife offers her body with a clause in the contract.
Other things, how her seeing her ex-hunky BF in the store can cause a personal meltdown, PERFECT
How a kid can be mutual territory in a cold war. PERFECT
How one party can still be in love and realize just a moment to late that the other party has left the tent years ago. PERFECT
But that was probably what made this ultimately to painful to bear. Ryan Gosling is my favorite actor in America and he makes his character loveable, but kind of a lout. But it is very clear that he made his goal to love her the rest of his life…he had no other ideas about what to do with himself outside of that and by the end, it had me in a vice grip and left me cold. No love, no remorse, no hope….for me too dark. I could literally see the moment his heart explodes in his chest.
Me and Dee love each other…we communicate, we have an intimate friendship, BUT this is the monster that lurks beneath every marriage. And to see it swallow this FICTIONAL couple is horrifying.
The last scene divorce / a wedding flash back? Why would the writer director do that?
To show us all that will never be for them???
One last thing, the MPAA, are hyporcrits and idiots, the sex scene in question, was quick real and not exploitation. But because of the “realness” of it, it makes it uncomfortable and too sexual.
You take that same scene, put it in a different movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, slow it down, change the angles a bit, and put some soft music behind it and all the suddenly it is not offensive at all…because it is “Artistic”…BULLCRAP!!!
It had to be this way, because of the tone and because that seen has parity with the shower scene. Glad the director fought it to appeal.
Another note, you may be familiar with…on the bridge when she tells him to “get down” because he is literally a foot or so away from falling to his death…yeah Ryan Gosling, refused to fake that or get help…he did that scene for real…
Even without being married, I can relate to the whole “pulling away” or rejected kiss or I don’t want to hold your hand… just the whole I don’t really wanna be near you vibe. It’s very painful. I’ve also been in that I’m in love with you tent alone too. So those parts I knew what that felt like.
As for the sex scene in question that caused the uproar, it’s the scene Dean goes down on Cindy when they are still a new couple. I can see them having a problem with the shower scene too but it’s not as graphic as when they “first” did it since there was no question what it was he was doing, aka explicit.
I enjoyed your review. I agree this movie was very uncomfortable to watch. I felt so tense watching it. It reminded me a little too much of relationships of those close to me in my life. This movie was almost too realistic. I hope my friend never watches it. I just wrote a review on my blog and linked to yours because I enjoyed what you had to say. If you care to, read my review, too. I would appreciate hearing what you think about my thought train. All the best!
I just read it… but then I realized I only read one page of it after I made a comment, but I then I re-read it all and liked it. It’s nice to see you felt the same way and that it’s a difficult movie to watch, yet the craft of the film (actors, director, writing) is amazing.