Thursday, July 5, 2012

Take This Waltz: Movie Review


A marriage and its possible demise as seen from three artfully crafted characters.
“Take This Waltz” is a relationship drama, a romantic comedy, or a character study, depending on how you look at it. It's about marriage; it's about the individuals in a marriage; it's about the individuals involved in the destruction of a marriage; and it's about one individual in particular. It's funny, sad, and revealing. It's heartbreakingly hilarious, conflictingly optimistic and pessimistic, and perfectly Canadian.2011

Directed by: Sarah Polley

Screenplay by: Sarah Polley

Starring: Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen

Seth Rogan and Michelle Williams in TAKE THIS WALTZ,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
It's one of those movies that whatever you put into it, you will get out of it. If you look for meaning in every scene, you will find it. If you want the characters to represent you, they will. If you want the characters to have faults, they will. If you want the characters to be romantic idealists in love, I'm pretty sure they can be (although you might have to skip a scene near the end for that particular philosophy to work out). If you want a movie in which you can just lose yourself and enjoy the moment, that's possible, to a degree, as well.

Let's start with the setting. It's Toronto (and Nova Scotia), Canada. Not an Americanized, idealized or negative version of the city, but just plain Toronto. More importantly, it's also summer. You can feel the sweat in the air and see the heat on their faces. You can get a sense for what the heat can do to a person, a couple and a marriage. Whether it's the 5-year itch of her marriage or the summer-time heat that is getting to Margot (Michelle Williams) is entirely up to you.

Luke Kirby and Michelle Williams in TAKE THIS WALTZ,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
She meets a stranger on a plane, Daniel (Luke Kirby), who is so good looking that she wants to talk and flirt with him, but not too good looking that she would feel compelled to lie. She's married. Which is too bad because the more time they spend together the more they are convinced that they are each other's soul mate.

Daniel is the type of guy that says exactly what she wants to hear when she wants to hear it. The reason he's so perfect is because they're meant for each other, I'm assuming. I would have liked a bit more of an examination into who he is because everything else was so fully and completely thought out. Margot is central. Williams gets to play her as younger and more naive than most of her recent characters but can still deliver the hidden angst and destruction when needed. The script slowly reveals everything that we need to know about her, so I'm not going to say anything more.

The character of the husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), was a bit more flat without the arcs that the others had. But I don't say that as a criticism because there's a reason his character was written that way. It's nice to see Rogen in a dramatic role even if he doesn't get to shine as much as Williams and Kirby.

It is funny, but I wouldn't recommend seeing it just for the comedy. It is interesting, but it's the characters and what they say that defines this movie more than the storyline. It's the inter-connectedness of all the poignant and truthful lines that makes this movie so spectacular; and also the song choice with suprising lyrics and some well-timed edits. This is for anyone who has ever pondered the meaning of the words to “Video Killed the Radio Star” and wanted to find a movie it belongs in. Throw in a Leonard Cohen song or two and you’ve got a soundtrack that defines the characters and their situations.

Ultimately, “Take This Waltz” is about a woman who's almost 30 and thinks she knows where she is in life.


Blue Valentine (2010) - A tragically real, beautiful and blue relationship.

Stuck Between Stations (2011) - A relatiopnship drama about the characters and what they have to say.

Rid of Me (2011) - A bleak character study encompassing the best and discomfort of a dark comedy.