Writer/Director Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz acts as a thematic complement to her previous film, 2006’s Away From Her, but this time around the pulling is done to the heartstrings of the young and strong. Margot (Michelle Williams) is an aspiring writer who is teased by a random guy while on assignment, surprisingly ends up sitting next to the same guy on the flight home, and then, funny enough, ends up living across the street from him. Crazy. She’d probably start a fling with him if it weren’t for her cookbook writing husband Lou (Seth Rogan). Oh look, she does anyway. The random guy is Daniel (Luke Kirby), a tall, dark, and handsome closeted artist/rickshaw driver who sweeps Margot off of her feet and invites her into a new life of freedom away from the shackles of marriage. But things in Lou’s side of the family fall apart without Margot around and she eventually learns that the good times always end, but at least we have our memories. This third act is actually so contrived that it feels like it must be a dream sequence, looking back I almost wonder if I missed something, but I guess anything is possible when your leading male character is a handsome thirty-something rickshaw driver.
Michelle Williams is a playful sprite, you’ve known girls like her, they’ve both intrigued and frustrated you. She’s described as “restless in a permanent way”, which feels appropriate though she’s mostly unreadable. All of the performances are pretty strong and I actually took note of Seth Rogan for the first time since who knows when (Observe and Report maybe? Remember that one?). Critics will surely refer to Williams’ full-frontal nudity and sexual displays as “brave”, but the real bravery in the film comes from her behind-closed-doors interactions with her husband. They display that insanely annoying childlike interplay that develops between couples to such a realistic degree that it’s painful to watch.
There is a lot to like in this film though: the careful progression of the affair, the true-to-life confusion and grasping at justification that arises from these types of situations, the general atmosphere of exciting dread. And the soundtrack, you get to hear The Buggles twice.
Take This Waltz opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.