Movie Review: Take This Waltz
Rating: R (for language, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity)
Length: 116 minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2012
Directed by: Sarah Polley
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Stars: 4 out of 5
"Take This Waltz" focuses on Margot Rubin, who is 28 years old and has been married to her husband Lou for the past five years. She is a freelance writer, and Lou is a celebrated author who writes cookbooks that feature chicken recipes. The couple lives in Little Portugal, a residential neighborhood primarily populated by people of Portuguese descent.
Lou has been spending the summer testing his chicken recipes, and he is unaware of how close he is to losing Margot. He demonstrates simple affection, but Margot wants Lou to show more than passing interest in her. The simple bickering is normal in a healthy marriage, but it causes Margot to begin looking elsewhere for the passion she craves.
Margot meets Daniel on a business trip, and she later finds out that he is her next-door neighbor. Daniel is a rickshaw driver and an artist who is more passionate than Lou is. Margot and Lou quickly form a close relationship that shatters her contented domestic life. Margot initially suppresses her attraction for Daniel, but she begins to examine her feelings for her husband.
Daniel seems to be the perfect man for Margot, and she becomes more drawn to him. They begin seeing each other secretly during the hot summer in Toronto, although their relationship remains platonic. This restraint causes their chemistry to become more intense, and Margot eventually yields to her desire. The affair causes Margot to learn some disturbing truths about herself, and she must eventually confront Lou about her feelings for Daniel.
Michelle Williams has already earned acclaim for her performances in other bittersweet romances such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "Blue Valentine." The film is more of a challenge for Seth Rogen, who has only played comedic roles in oddball comedies such as "Superbad" and "Knocked Up". Sarah Silverman is experienced in comedic films, and she also plays her first dramatic role in "Take This Waltz".
Williams and Rogen share several scenes where they exchange one-liners in an improvisational style. These scenes initially serve to establish the intimacy of the marriage. An extended version of these scenes takes place in the climax of the film when Lou confronts Margot about her affair with Daniel. Seth Rogen is in front of the camera, while Williams is behind it. This scene is ironic because Lou finally shows the passion that Margot has been receiving from Daniel. This scene shows an excruciating heart-to-heart talk between these two spouses and shows a humble performance from both actors. Many of the lines in this scene appear to be ad-libbed, but they show great sincerity.
"Take This Waltz" takes its title from the song by Leonard Cohen with the same name. It is a humorous look at long-term relationships and their effect on love, sex and our self-image. Polley was recently remarried when she made this film but insists it is not autobiographical. She began writing the script for "Take This Waltz" while she was still directing "Away From Her." Polley wanted to explore the end of a marriage after the honeymoon period as well as the initial desire of a new relationship. She handles the moral ambiguity of this subject matter without compromise to show someone who is unaware of her role in her own unhappiness.