The film basically portrays a marriage that maybe wasn't meant to be. It isn't told in chronological order, so the scenes skip between before, after and during the courtship. Blue Valentine starts off close to the end chronologically, and it's a great way to begin because of all of the questions that are raised: you see, normally we see Gosling as a hip, slick, well-dressed gent in nearly all of the films he is in. But from the first moment we see him in Blue Valentine, he's chubbed up, has a receding hairline, wears glasses that resemble a pedophiles, and--best of all--wears a black sweatshirt with a picture of an eagle on it, similar to something a 5th grader or a mildly-retarded amateur bass fisherman would throw on in the morning. Clearly, the love between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams) is not what it once was. They have a daughter, and are just going through the motions, with Dean being a house painter who starts drinking The King of Beers around 8 A.M. on weekdays, and Cindy working as a nurse with a sketchy Doctor co-worker. The film then jumps back in time from there, depicting many events throughout their once loving now hating relationship.
One of the small problems with the film deals with the question, "what exactly went wrong?" Maybe it's my sexist subconscious speaking, but I feel like Dean didn't really do anything wrong to deserve the hatred that Cindy feels for him in specific scenes during the movie. And if you agree with his point of view, it's hard to see what more he could do. Blue Valentine, although clearly about a relationship, can more specifically be described as a cautionary tale about some people who can just, simply, fall out of love. The excitement that is felt at the beginning of a relationship can quickly morph into something more destructive: the slow decline of hope of what is still to come.