A raw look at a relationship in decline,” Blue Valentine”, is a tour de force that should not be missed. The film is an actor’s wet dream as director Derek Cianfrance throws the audience straight in the flames of the fire. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star as Dean and Cindy, a couple on the verge of destruction with their daughter, Frankie (adorable newcomer Faith Wladyka) stuck smack dab in the middle. Dean is an ever-loving father and husband that lives to love his daughter and wife and pretty much nothing else. Cindy is a nurse pushed to the limit, who feels like she is raising two children instead of one. Dean is content with his life and what it has become. Cindy feels he could have been something more and resents him for that. “Blue Valentine” is an in-your-face view of a once loving couple now falling completely apart. The story unfolds during various flashbacks throughout the film’s running time and gives the film its raw and fascinating edge. Cianfrance has said he captured the flashbacks of his two lead actors in a very intimate documentary style film shoot and therefore was able pull off some incredibly gut-wrenching improvisational moments. Lead actors Gosling and Williams are tremendous and deserve all the recognition they have received thus far (Williams this week snatched up her first Best Actress Oscar nomination). The performances on display are so stripped down, real and revealing you feel like a fly on the wall and often can’t believe your eyes. Cianfrance has also admitted in recent interviews that it has been a 12-year process to get the film made and has gone through 66 drafts of the screenplay along with over 1,200 storyboards to bring “Blue Valentine” to life. The director revealed that Williams has been involved with the project for close to seven years while Gosling has been attached for the last five. Both actors knew exactly what they were getting into and were up for the challenge. His painstaking work to bring this pet project to fruition can be seen in all its glory through the brilliance of the film from start to finish. Blue Valentine is exhausting but is worth every honest minute. Audiences are not likely to see performances this powerful and revealing all year. A true beauty of filmmaking, Blue Valentine will be remembered long after the smoke has cleared.