Cert: 15 Runtime: 116 mins Director: Sarah Polley Starring: Michelle Williams,Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
Life has a gap in it… It just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it
I will always have a soft spot for an indie movie, Take this Waltz has a great cast but not a lot of media hype. In this story we meet Margot (Michelle Williams) nervously coping with her fear of airports at the end of a writing assignment for a travel company. Her eyes engage a handsome young artist Daniel (Luke Kirby) and as fate would have it they are assigned adjoining seats on the airplane home. After an uncomfortably awkward conversation we can see that there is a mutual attraction, and on arriving home they share a taxi and discover that they live across the street form each other. Sensing her attraction and being the faithful wife that she is, Margot informs Daniel that she is married and they part ways. Margot’s husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is a stay at home guy who loves cooking and is writing a book on various chicken recipes. Though Margot and Lou repeatedly tell each other how much they love each other, their marriage of five years seems more of a silly childish game than a mature marriage relationship. There is a moment when their tiresome silly word games is interrupted by a possible physical liaison but the idea of sharing love and the concept of a child is touched upon and we never find out why that is or who is trying to have or not have a family.
But what Margot sees in Daniel is something that’s been missing in her life, a sexual spark that excites her, even though she dares not act upon it since she really does love Lou in spite of his foibles – including a certain apathy about their relationship that he thinks is perfectly normal. She could see spending the rest of her life with Lou, but she wonders if he is her soul-mate or whether it’s worth the risk to find out if Daniel is really the one. Blinded by desires she had yet to tap in her marriage, Margot knows if she acts upon those feelings, there will come some point where she’ll have to make a hard decision between Lou and Daniel. Michelle Williams captures Margot’s inner conflict with palpable empathy as you see her character expose her thoughts in moments of quiet in which she is the harshest judge of her actions. It’s a shining performance which compares favorably to her evocative Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn”. There is a deliberate vagueness to the two men. As Daniel, Luke Kirby (“Mambo Italiano”) manages to convey the lure of “the other man” without coming across as despicable even though it’s clear he wants her from afar. At the same time, it’s clear that Margot and Daniel have little in common, and they make you wonder how sustainable their relationship could be.
Seth Rogen does something surprising in this film – he acts. He still doesn’t stray that far away from his shaggy-dog comic persona, but he realistically shows how Lou’s contentment and impassivity bring Margot both lasting security and unresolvable fear and longing. Similarly, Sarah Silverman makes her few scenes count as Lou’s plainspoken sister Geraldine, who is married with two kids and an alcoholic just out of rehab, especially when she tells Margot what she thinks of her ultimate decision. That Polley can coax such fine dramatic work from Rogen and Silverman is a credit to her growing confidence as a filmmaker. As a native Canadian, she also presents Toronto as a setting with its own unique identity (versus other directors who use it as a double for New York or Chicago), and her cinematographer Luc Montpellier brings a lushness to the images that adds to the intoxication Margot is feeling. There are still flaws – the ramshackle pace adds to an already lengthy 116-minute running time, and the climactic time-lapse montage feels out- of-place for a film that had tread so lightly before.