Blue Valentine (15) ****

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are strong contenders for Oscar nominations for their tour-de-force portrayal of a husband and wife in Derek Cianfrance's slow-burning drama.

Removal man Dean (Gosling) crosses paths with Cindy (Williams) at a retirement home and he is smitten, pursuing the young woman until she agrees to a date.

Their fiery and passionate romance leads to marriage and a family, but the giddiness and excitement of those early months together is replaced by weariness as the relationship settles into a routine.

When Cindy encounters her high school sweetheart (Mike Vogel) in the supermarket, seeds of jealousy are sown that reap poisonous fruit when the couple head to a hotel for a rare night alone.