Narrated in flashback, between past and present, the film tells the story of love that is lost and found, of a couple on the brink. Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) remember the best moments of their relationship as they give themselves one more night to try to save their rocky marriage.
“The film is constructed on a series of contrasts: man / woman, love / hate, light / darkness, film / video, etc. This duality is reflected in the temporal structure of the film. I wanted the film to function like memory, with the past like long-term memory, and the present like short-term memory. I wanted to treat these dilations and ellipses in time on film,” says the director.
Derek Cianfrance wanted, above all, for this film to be as honest and realistic as possible, to show real people and real-life situations. He applied himself both to the direction of the actors and the sets and locations, even though it was shot in real locations, for example a retirement home or a family planning clinic. He even went as far as employing a real removals firm whose employees appear in the film!
Spending 12 years preparing allowed him to perfect his film by going over the construction of the script, while keeping in mind the need to remain open to moments of spontaneous creation during shooting. It was a long wait that Derek Cianfrance thinks was worth it, in the end: “At the end of the day, I’m happy to have had to wait. The film is the better for it.”