Boy and girl meet cute, go out on a few dates and fall in love. Very few films cover what occurs after that moment, even fewer do so with such flourishes of authenticity. The stupid jokes and awkward laughs afterward. The brief bouts of indecision to decide whether or not to fully disclose our backgrounds. The dinners with each others' families that leaves one, or both, itching to run out of the room.
Cindy has been itching to run out of the room now for the considerable part of her marriage. The stresses of what she is asked to do and what Dean can't has run her ragged. They are the kinds of things that drive a marriage apart.
The future room is the make-or-break getaway for Dean and Cindy. An opportunity to hide from the problems of domesticity: a lost dog, work problems, and arguments. An opportunity to make love, to drink, to just be them. To say that this event could be the defining moment of their marriage is an understatement.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams go for broke with their performances. There is not one ounce of blood, sweat and tears that don't go into the inception of Dean and Cindy. The harsh gaze on these two warps from observing mere acting to completely inhabiting these people's lives. Years worth of frustrations can be read from a glance of Cindy's eyes. The wounded hounddog look behind Dean's shades could only be earned through countless incidents of questioned masculinity and worth.
Director Derek Cianfrance hits pause on numerous occasions during the swan song trip to the Future Room. Each time he does so reveals another memory; another layer of their existence. More is gained from this thoughtful approach of their history. This couple did not wake up and find flaws in their partners in some hellish easter egg hunt. They have been skirted over and buried beneath the surface for a long time. Each decision noted by the helmer as if it were a score.
It is impossible not to see into each soul of Cindy and Dean as they attempt to sew together some semblance of happiness. These are two people who desperately need something to cling to, but the temptation to bare their teeth and pick open old scabs proves too strong. They really do love another; they just don't know how they got to be where they are now.