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.