out of Five
Running time: 116
Impressively directed and beautifully shot, this is an enjoyable, thought-provoking relationship drama with a terrific central performance from Michelle Williams, a superb support cast and an emotionally engaging script.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley, Take This Waltz is set in present day Toronto and stars Michelle Williams as Margot, a 28 year old freelance writer whose five year marriage to cookbook writer Lou (Seth Rogen) is beginning to feel stale, despite the fact that they clearly still love each other. When Margot has a brief flirtation with a handsome stranger while on a business trip, she is horrified to discover that he is actually their new neighbour, artist and rickshaw driver Daniel (Luke Kirby). She soon begins to obsess over him, engineering meetings and striking up a platonic friendship. As the attraction between the pair grows stronger, Margot is forced to decide whether she is prepared to cheat on Lou or perhaps leave him altogether.
Michelle Williams delivers yet another terrific performance as Margot, managing to keep her likeable despite her potentially unsympathetic behaviour; she also has palpable chemistry with Kirby, even if we correctly sense that he won't necessarily be the answer to all her problems. Rogen is equally good as Lou, reigning in the more boorish aspects of his usual screen persona to deliver a sensitive and genuinely moving performance, while there's superb support from Sarah Silverman, who brings a dash of much needed comic relief as Lou's recovering alcoholic sister Geraldine.
The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Luc Montpellier, who shoots the sizzling Toronto summer in lush, sun-drenched colours. In addition, the acutely observational script is both thought provoking and emotionally gripping, presenting a view of relationships not often seen on screen, while Polley includes some delightful moments, such as Margot indulging in the sensuous experience of her favourite fairground ride.
That said, the film isn't without a few missteps along the way; for one thing, the dialogue occasionally falters and is a little too on-the-nose with its metaphors. In addition, Polley includes two ill-conceived scenes (a group shower scene and a climactic sex montage). You can see the intention behind them, but they draw too much attention to themselves and end up feeling heavy-handed and jarringly out of place, particularly in the latter case.
The occasional wobble aside, this remains a thought provoking and powerfully emotional relationship drama that confirms Polley as a major talent. Recommended.