15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
It's not that easy to pin down quite why Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz doesn't really work: the performances are excellent and there are plenty of strong scenes, yet this tale of desire and emptiness never really connects. Part of it is the unashamed contrivance of the initial set-up, with Michelle Williams meeting cute with Luke Kirby and bonding when she's shamming disability at the airport to queue-jump only to find that he lives across the road from her coming straight from any number of generic romcoms, as do a few subsequent scenes. Yet at the same time the film wants to be an emotionally realistic look at repressed wants and the growing unfulfilment Williams feels because of her increasing inability to really connect with her husband (Seth Rogan) while trying to deny her growing infatuation with the hotter guy across the street (in another romcom touch an artist with Bohemian sensibilities who makes his money pulling a rickshaw in Toronto). Williams does some often remarkable work, particularly in her lengthy reaction shots without dialogue, but her rather immature character isn't terribly convincing despite her best efforts and some good scenes. Rogan gets one of the film's best moments too when the film simply concentrates on his half of a painful conversation by cutting Williams out of it entirely, one of those moments where Polley's style really connects with what it feels like to be emotionally inside the moment, yet it's never really enough.
It doesn't help that the film often feels like it's marking time and filling in the gaps between a handful of really good moments the writer-director wanted to shoot rather than being truly organic, giving it a disjointed feel as it moves from moments that ring true to moments that feel horribly contrived, making it at times a bit of a chore to trudge through to the next good scene. The gratuitous nudity similarly feels remarkably cynical and thrown in purely for commercial reasons in the knowledge that `Sarah Silverman/Michelle Williams full frontal shower scene' will generate a huge number of internet hits from people who might just buy the DVD (but don't worry: artistic integrity is preserved by including frequent cutaways to elderly naked woman to put off any one-handed viewers). And at times there are so many lengthy takes of Williams' feet that you suspect that Quentin Tarantino may have co-directed. Disappointing.
StudioCanal's DVD offers a fine widescreen transfer with 36-minute behind the scenes documentary and trailer as extras.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is clearly a film that doesn't appeal to everyone if the previous reviews are anything to go by; I watched it twice at a few days interval and decided that I`ve come down on the positive side - but only just.
The central figure is definitely Margot (Michelle Williams); dissatisfied with her marriage to the good natured, but rather comfortably domestic Lou (Seth Rogan) she gradually develops a relationship with her unconventional next door neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby). The theme of the film is about the void Margot is trying to fill in her life; the restlessness she feels with Lou opposed to the edgier, more sexually fulfilling option she anticipates with Daniel.
The tempo of the film is quite slow and the characters aren't particularly likable - the childish banter between Margot and Lou is pretty cringe-worthy - and Margot - an aspiring writer, apparently - doesn't seem to have the responsibility of an occupation.
The cast and director, in the accompanying "making of" documentary, believe they have made a funny romantic comedy; it isn't very funny and it isn't awfully romantic, but it is a fairly well-considered, well-acted little drama about life, love and relationship decisions.
In it`s favour, the cinematography is beautiful; the film has many lyrical moments and the locations and soundtrack are equally pleasing. Though it`s rather a sad, melancholic piece it works quite well and Sarah Silverman as Geraldine, Margot`s recovering alcoholic sister both steals the show in the last scene and provides the film`s message - in so far as it has any.
An interesting - if you don`t mind its slow pace - rather ambiguous film, uncovering some emotional truths by subtle, if somewhat contrived means. Ideally I`d give it 3 ½ stars; it was definitely better upon my second viewing but it will be a long time before I`ll watch it again.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a strange film that tells a tale of love with the emptiness that sometimes enters relationships, I can say with all honesty it is not a film that I would buy! but I am pleased that I took a chance to take a look.
It is not down to poor acting or a film with no plot or very thin in substance I just found it very difficult to settle into, I prefer something a little lighter, this for me was just a little deep. We all know that relationships change, I felt that part of the film was acted well and what the film makers were trying to portray they did well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2014
This movie is a tragic/sad story about marriage disguised as a romantic comedy...
Amazon customer reviews indicate that some people hated the movie; I imagine they expected to see a typical American romantic comedy and were really disappointed that the ending, for example, created ambiguity and was not a straightforward happy one... Well, too bad for them because they've missed the true artistic merit of this movie.
It misses something (maybe the beginning of the story is a bit contrived?) to become a great movie, though... but it is a movie worth spending two hours over.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2014
This was one of those movies that you neither love, nor hate. I would not purposefully sit and watch it again, but nor will I change the channel with a few grunts of "none that again" if I happen to stumble upon it on TV. The story is semi-real life (I mean how likely is it that someone you meet on holiday will turn out to be your new next door neighbour! and at the same time How likely is it that your prospect-lover and husband bump into each other!) but that is not really the problem. Nor is it the acting: most of it is very good, some of it is OK, but none of it is terrible. I guess it must come down to the pace and those looooong scenes. I feel the movie generally could do with less time per scene and simultaneously more comic relief scenes (pool dancing gets a thumbs up on this one). Although I understand the idea is that the mood of the movie is melancholic the ending didnt help in terms of making the viewer feel like it had been two worthwhile hours spent watching this. The ending was a cliché, just like the beginning: everything new eventually becomes old... Based on what I have seen I'd say the lesson was not introduced to be learnt, but simply to be revised and reconfirmed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Trevor Wilsmer has said it all in his elegant and knowledgable review. An excellent cast and an interesting director fail to deliver a truly successful motion picture. Many sequences are just too long and cry out for editing while the nudity and graphic sequences are a combination of feminist political statement and ironically commercial exploitation. Sarah Polly's first feature "Away from Her" was a more accomplished feature. Still several reviewers have clearly enjoyed the film and I probably would have watched it past the first hour if my partner hadn't made it very clear that "enough was enough". So - if you want to risk a viewing be warned it's long - self-indulgent - rather too graphic for some - unconvincingly quirky -needing a better script - and definitely a movie you should watch on its own if you don't want to start a family row ! Good luck!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was sufficiently intrigued by this film to watch the included extra - which includes interviews with Canadian director/actor Sarah Polley, and various members of the cast. I was glad that I did, because it helped to explain the sense of emptiness that I was left with after watching the film. In a way that was the point - that there is a part of most of us that feels there is something missing in our lives when we settle in to cosy domesticity.
The most striking thing about the film for me was the lighting and the way it was shot. The sense of bright, hot and humid Toronto was brilliantly captured. In fact this is sometimes like an advert for Canada - those beautiful brightly painted shabby chic houses in Little Portugal, Toronto, the wilds of Nova Scotia, not to forget the soundtrack featuring Leonard Cohen and Feist channeling Ron Sexsmith. Not quite sure they got it right with the Buggles choice for the fairground scene, but perhaps I missed some deeper reference?
Michelle Williams does a great job here, bringing an authenticity to a role that could have come across as a bit shallow. 'Happily married' but inextricably drawn to the sexy neighbour. She does manage to capture the sense of desire, denial, and ultimately hard gained knowledge that falling in love does not change the world and everyone has to learn to deal with 'the fade'. I thought Luke Kirby as Daniel also managed to find something rather special in his performance, which went deeper than his attractiveness. Sarah Silverman is surprisingly good as well and really sums up in the key line of the movie for me - "Life has a gap in it. It just does. You don't go crazy trying to fill it like some lunatic". Ironic coming from a alcoholic that has just fallen off the wagon.
This won't be everyone's cup of tea. The pace is languid for the most part, but then shoots forward towards the end. This is more about emotion than action. Overall: worthwhile
on 14 August 2015
Where do hipster romance movies come from? Somehow, they all seem to echo some ur quirk-out in the recent cinematic past – a first perfect depiction of charmingly imperfect lovers charmingly articulating their charming troubles – but what was it? In what grove of regenerating urban Arcady did we glimpse it? Were we all just visited by the idea simultaneously as a result of some folding in on itself po-mo vintagey zeitgeist? Is it a sort of Eden or womb, a sense of an ideal home we think we remember but to which we can never return? And is it time to put a stop to all this unspecified yearning and declare the tropes to which it gives rise now rotten, dishonest clichés?
Or, the first question for me in the matter of 'Take This Waltz': Are we actually supposed to be charmed by all this? I'm almost someone who might be expected to be – the retro clothes, the indie music, the boho homes and neighbourhood – and this movie, maybe more than any other of its type (except possibly Miranda July's 'The Future') makes me ashamed that I am and ashamed to admit it here. The effect is so strong that I ultimately began to construct a maybe over-generous theory that my mild but insistent nausea was, in fact, the intended reaction. I still suspect it's just apophenia, but here's how it would be if writer/director Sarah Polley had really designed in the critique and come to bury the hipster romance, not praise it:
We should start by locating the quirk. It's not primarily in the character interactions – though they do become cloying at times – but in the clothes and décor. It's a ludicrously wild excess, like taking a box of chocolates and glazing it or a Bonnard painting on acid, a mad proliferation of colourful, patinated detail not seen since Jane Campion's hopelessly excessive 'In the Cut'. In numerous scenes in unrelated places, someone's taken a paintbrush to existing woodwork or street furniture to render the style of the mise en scene consistent. But the colours aren't really nice. The homes, as so often with these things, are amazing, really way too well-appointed and expansive for the characters' budgets, but the colour schemes, especially in the main house, also render them discombobulating. It's things like light orange with aquamarine or yellow with red.
All this reaches its apogee in the implausibly vast warehouse flat the female protagonist runs off to with her handsome, rickshaw driving neighbour. In one key dreamlike sequence of compressed time, the new couple begins a sexual relationship and simultaneously, as the camera revolves around the space, acquires more and more material goods – including, ultimately, extra sexual partners for three-ways – and it's all totally devoid of emotion. Then the woman goes home and sees her ex at his equally amazing house and cries, but doesn't get back together with him.
Meanwhile, for all the claggy excess of decorative detail, the rare moments when the film seems actually beautiful are when the decoration's all stripped out, particularly in a night-time swimming pool sequence and in a scene of the protagonist alone on an amusement park ride, which closes the film. These, somewhat in line with Andre Bazin's prescription for cinema (he said it was primarily a spatial medium), are about space and light. There's a feeling of relief about them, of being able to breathe at last – even if the characters are under water. At the end, alone on the carnival ride, in what could have been a shot about despair, the woman starts unexpectedly laughing and that's how we leave her. It's as if she has been caught up in hipster consumerist material excess all along, suffocating in a sublimely baroque overgrowth of it, and with the second lover she is able to take it to its furthest possible extreme and see that no good can come of it.
OK, having written out the idea, I am actually pretty convinced by it and impressed by Polley if this was her objective. Still, I don't know. Not that I'm asking to be spoon-fed, but it could be a little clearer, maybe, or somehow a little more consistent and developed or maybe what it needs it not a little but a lot and, honestly, I don't at this point know of what, but it's not quite there. Maybe Samuel Fuller's prescription: e-mo-shun. No, it can't be that. There's loads of that in the performances. Williams is bloody incredible and Rogen's very good too. I don't know...