TAKE THIS WALTZ
Written and Directed by Sarah Polley
Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
Geraldine: Life has a big gap in it. You don’t try to fill it like a fucking lunatic.
Canadian darling, Sarah Polley’s latest directorial effort begins with such great promise. The enigmatic, Michelle Williams, with her round face and gentle demeanor, comes in and out of focus in a quaint Toronto kitchen. The sun beams in and all you can hear is the clicking of the fan rotating in the corner and a soft folk song filling the soundtrack. It’s one of those perfect mornings; her muffins are rising slowly and the whole day awaits her. As she sinks to the floor by the oven and a man’s legs brush past her, the tone is set for a truly great film. Unfortunately, it is at this point that mouths are opened, awkwardness and discomfort come out of them and TAKE THIS WALTZ begins to step all over its own feet.
Williams plays Margot, a 29-year-old writer living in Toronto. She has been married to Lou (Seth Rogen, who continues to grow and show more depth as an actor) for six years now. The two clearly love each other but their relationship has never matured from its youthful beginnings. As a result, they resort to cutesy baby talk and childish games where they each come up with creative ways to kill the other person whenever there is potential for intimacy between them. Neither one seems to notice their relationship is stinted until Margot meets a man on Prince Edward Island, of all places, while on assignment. Daniel (the charming Luke Kirby) not only ends up sitting next to her on the plane, where Margot has the chance to spill some fairly overwrought dialogue about how she fears missing connections at airports and maybe really fears fear itself, but as it turns out, Daniel also happens to live a few doors over from her in Toronto as well. It’s crazy how life can line up like that, I mean, especially when it is being written that way.
Margot’s heart becomes torn between the love she’s known for years and the possibilities presented by something new, something potentially more adult. Ordinarily, I am drawn into every emotion Williams gives us but in TAKE THIS WALTZ, I just wanted to cut in, grab her by the shoulders and shake her. Margot is an unhappy sap, who sees her marriage to a supportive man as a true burden and who portends that the path she has taken holds her back without admitting it was of her own making or doing a single thing to change it. To watch her debate the greener grass across the street from her is an exercise in great patience as she comes off as unappreciative, immature and unaware. Granted, yes, people just like Margot exist in real life but the sympathy with which Polley demands for Margot is too much to ask and Margot never does one thing to deserve it. As far as I’m concerned, Polley can have her waltz back because I don’t want it.