When Margot (Michelle Williams), 28, meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), their chemistry is intense and immediate. But Margot suppresses her sudden attraction; she is happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen), a cookbook writer. When Margot learns that Daniel lives across the street from them, the certainty about her domestic life shatters. She and Daniel steal moments throughout the steaming Toronto summer, their eroticism heightened by their restraint. Swelteringly hot, bright and colorful like a bowl of fruit, TAKE THIS WALTZ leads us, laughing, through the familiar, but uncharted question of what long-term relationships do to love, sex, and our images of ourselves.
**Rent Take This Waltz
on demand at Amazon
Named after the Leonard Cohen song of the same name, Take This Waltz is the story of a woman torn between two men. A writer named Margot (My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams) meets Daniel (Luke Kirby from "Cra$h & Burn"), an artist and rickshaw driver, on a plane, where the two are seated next to each other and immediately hit it off. Upon sharing a cab from the airport, Margot discovers that Daniel lives across the street from her and her husband, another writer named Lou (Seth Rogen from Knocked Up). Living in such close proximity to each other, Margot and Daniel frequently and purposely run into each other, feeling a mutual attraction upon which they know that they cannot act. Margot is torn between the man to whom she is married and the man who she believes may be her soul mate, and her loyalty and honesty are both tested.
Take This Waltz was written and directed by Sarah Polley (who is much more well known for being an actress in Go and the 2004 reboot of Dawn of the Dead), and the script seems more like a bunch of unrelated ideas than a completed film. There are snippets of brilliance here and there, but the movie as a whole just doesn't go anywhere. It's a character driven film that focuses almost entirely on Margot, but she is so indecisive and flip-flops so much that the story arc never develops. The dialogue borders on annoying and the situations are fairly unrealistic - at one point, Lou throws a beer party to celebrate his sister's three year anniversary of being sober - which distracts from any semblance of a plot that might have been forming. The series of unrelated scenes that appear to make up Take This Waltz just don't work very well together.
Technically speaking, Take This Waltz has a pretty interesting look. Polley takes a very ordinary approach to filmmaking in the movie, using as much natural light that she can get away with and choosing to use little or no makeup on the actors. This process gives the film a very down-to-earth, lived-in look not unlike Michelle Williams' 2010 film Blue Valentine. However, also much like Blue Valentine, the plot never really gets off the ground and leaves so many questions unanswered that Take This Waltz just falls flat.
For all of the weaknesses in the script, Take This Waltz is very well acted. Since Margot is onscreen for most of the movie, Michelle Williams has a field day, capturing the insecurity and indecision that plagues her character throughout the entire film. Seth Rogen is surprisingly good in a dramatic role, with his performance as Lou proving that he may be able to follow in the footsteps of Tom Hanks and Robin Williams by crossing over from comedy to drama. Sarah Silverman also does well as she gives a dramatic role a crack as Lou's alcoholic sister, Geraldine, who serves mostly as a competent sounding board and companion for Margot.
The real fun is watching Luke Kirby and Michelle Williams together. Kirby's Daniel is passable, but he seems to really shine when his character interacts with Margot. For example, there is one scene where Daniel and Margot are sipping martinis, and Daniel starts to tell her, in great erotic yet innocent detail, things that he would like to do to her. In another scene, the pair ride an amusement park ride called The Scrambler, where they are alternately thrown into each other and away from each other. Kirby and Williams have great chemistry when they share the screen, demonstrating both the passion that their characters share for each other and the restraint that they must exhibit in each other's presence.
No matter what the genre description says, Take This Waltz is not a comedy. The inclusion of Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman do not a comedy make, and Take This Waltz is a dark and moody drama. There is only one humorous sequence in the film, a scene in a pool where Margot and Geraldine are doing an Aquafit class that is hilarious because of the overly-animated instructor, not because of Williams or Silverman. Whether the viewer likes Take This Waltz or not, one thing is for sure; it's not a comedy.
June 29, 2012