Review: Take This Waltz (2011)

Directed by: Sarah Polley
Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby

Stuff comes along that epitomizes what it is for something to be divisive; it’s inevitable. In the case of Sarah Polley’s latest effort Take This Waltz, this statement rings exceptionally true. At once focusing on a young couple, presumably madly in love complete with couple-specific quirks, the film can’t quite decide what it wants to comment on until its too late and our attention begins to drift elsewhere. As something admirably unfamiliar, though, Polley does what she can as she continues to pave her way toward indie super-stardom.

Seth Rogen’s Lou and Michelle Williams’ Margot are a lively, if slightly immature married couple, nearly half a decade into their marriage and going relatively strong, that is until curiosity slowly begins to kill the cat as Margot begins a questionable friendship with a handsome new neighbor. Constantly confronting her own fear of simply “being afraid,” Margot’s insecurities are as ripe as apples in October as she continues to lead her new potential suitor/pseudo-lifecoach on via innumerable impromptu meet-ups. We’re unfortunately kept in the dark as to whether or not Margot’s truly unhappy with her marriage to Lou or if she’s just too emotionally crippled too see the big picture; that boredom goes hand-in-hand with certain aspects of life and bouncing from one thing to the next isn’t always a surefire problem-solver.

After a rather unsettling conversation that takes place between Margot and young Daniel one afternoon over martinis, I definitively decided that Take This Waltz had taken an irreversible turn for the worst as things move from conventional to appealingly unconventional to plain fucking creepy. With Rogen’s character being as likable as can be, Margot’s actions are simply detestable as something mildly predictable happens during the film’s latter act that’s anything but warranted. Certain insights are shared pertaining to the permanence of marriage and how being childishly restless can have an horrific effect on your once stable relationship, but they’re all for naught as actions tend to speak louder than words in this case.

With a latter act as peculiar and anti-pitch-perfect as they come, infatuation gets the best of Margot as she continuously fails to realize that maybe Daniel can’t keep her happy and make her feel as comfortable as Lou always has. Rogen admirably plays against type and exhibits palpable chemistry with Williams as well, it’s just a shame that the film as a whole falters beneath the weight of its overly ambitious, not-so-enlightening take on the whole complexities of modern relationships thing, mistaking stupidity for emotional honesty. Is Margot’s change of heart a “You only live once” kind of thing? Is she really that childish in the grand scheme of things? Whichever you decide, Take This Waltz ends on an agreeably low note, and a surprisingly good one at that, it’s just a shame that everything leading up to it feels so incredibly disjointed and sometimes negligible. Polley gets some points for exhibiting originality in some areas, but she can’t quite wrap it all up satisfactorily enough.

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