You don't always hurt the ones you love. Sometimes you devastate them.

You don't always hurt the ones you love. Sometimes you devastate them.

"Blue Valentine" floats between the joys and pains of love. It's sometimes brutal, sometimes heart-wrenching, but there's still a love story under it all - whether or not it gets a happy ending.

It chronicles Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), a working-class couple in the midst of a disintegrating marriage. As it non-chronologically spans their romance, we see their eventual distance juxtaposed with a storybook courtship.

Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance constructs a nuanced love story, bold and original, yet still familiar and resonant.

His take on a broken marriage is tragic but almost poetic. There are no easy answers here, no simple judgments.

He also brings out two astonishing and unique performances, one that got an Oscar nod (Williams) and one that deserved one (Gosling).

Gosling brings a boyish sweetness and alternate explosiveness. We fall in and out of love with him over and over. Williams' performance is sometimes softer in contrast, but it's no less amazing.

"Blue Valentine" might be one to avoid on a first date, unless you want a reminder of how much pain you might eventually cause each other. It's still unforgettable.