Film Review: Take This Waltz (2012)

on Saturday, August 25, 2012
'Take This Waltz' (UK Release: 17 Aug ’12) // Words: Alison Potter

UK quad poster

'Take This Waltz' stars Michelle Williams as Margot, a young married 30-something in a relationship that’s going nowhere. Her husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is an unaffectionate chicken chef that can’t face the fact that their marriage is failing. Suddenly a handsome stranger Daniel (Luke Kirby) enters her life and Margot has to decide whether she should stay in her safe marriage or take a chance on this man with whom she feels an inexplicable attraction.

In terms of annoying couples, watching Margot and Lou interact is almost unbearable – if they’re not speaking in baby talk to each other, they are playing a childish game where they describe the various horrific ways in which they would kill each other. The infantilisation of their relationship is symbolic of the fact that all passion and attraction has left the relationship, and what they have left is a comfortable, childish rapport.

Despite their incredibly annoying onscreen personas, Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen are utterly convincing in their roles. They manage to add depth to their characters, without which 'Take This Waltz' would be a great deal more difficult to watch. But the film itself belongs to relative newcomer Luke Kirby, who is an absolute scene-stealer as the gorgeous and free-spirited neighbour Daniel that Margot falls helplessly in love with.

Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby

With a largely Canadian cast and a Canadian director, at times 'Take This Waltz' feels like a tourism advert on behalf of the Canadian government. Writer and director Sarah Polley presents an idealised suburban representation of Toronto. The colours are rich and bright, and every day is a perfect sunny day – the perfect backdrop to Margot and Daniel’s romantic, but chaste summer of love.

The film is unashamedly indie and quirky, which might be too much for some to take. The arthouse introspection and navel-gazing can at times be exhausting to watch, but the scenes in which Daniel and Margot spend time with each other have an engrossing electrifying atmosphere that are unexpectedly gripping to watch.

Sarah Polley makes a concerted effort to present the characters in an impartial light. Their actions and motives are presented in an unbiased way and the audience are encouraged to come to their own conclusions. There are some comedic interludes amongst the drama, namely from sharp-tongued American actress Sarah Silverman, who plays Lou’s alcoholic sister. It is a shame though that occasionally the script relied on the lowest common denominator, including urinating jokes that wouldn’t have been out of place in 'American Pie'.

If there’s one big fault with 'Take This Waltz', it’s that it’s difficult to empathise with characters that are so unsympathetic, so annoying, and so blind. In particular Margot’s baby voice becomes like nails on a chalkboard every time she utters the words: “I wuv woo baaby.”

The beginning is almost unbearably co-incidental, but once the film picks up pace it’s much more easier to get into. Sarah Polley does a good job of juxtaposing sexy Daniel with reliable, but ineffective Lou, and she’s not afraid to show the difficult moments, which challenge the likeability of her characters.

Overall, 'Take This Waltz' is an entertaining watch, as much as watching the painful disintegration of relationship can be. Exploring concepts of love, lust and infidelity, it takes an unflinching look at the difficulties of relationships and problems of marriage. Opinions from critics have been incredibly divided and whilst it’s certainly not for everyone, it’s a great film from a promising director and it stars some incredibly talented actors. Although Michelle Williams’ baby voice is something which no one ever needed to hear. Ever.


'Take This Waltz' is out in UK cinemas now, through Optimum Releasing.

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