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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
on 31 January 2013
I never heard anything about this film before viewing it and I dont know any of the actors besides one of the male protagonists who I believe also starred in SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT The Green Hornet.
It is the story of an unhappily married woman who is wooed by a new neighbour, it switches between the home dynamic between her and her distracted and inconsistent husband, the bohemian neighbour and his efforts at seduction and family and friends.
I am unsure of any major themes, although the characters are interesting but lacking in any real depth, the acting is good and probably the better for not being a feature which has a lot of big names.
Perhaps there are some themes about age (the contrast between young and old, childish or childlike character), crisis or priorities (contrasts between alcoholism and other crisis, the husband appears to "fiddle while rome burns" focusing on his cookery writing rather than his wife) and maybe the song "Video killed the radio star" has some significance.
There are a number of nude scenes, including some in the showers after the female lead and her friends have been to a swim aerobics class, which didnt seem that necessary and a later montage of sexual antics was the same.
I have used the word curious in the title of the review because that is how I feel about this film, it is not exactly compelling viewing or worthy of a lot of discussion or rewatching but if you possess any curiosity you will feel like watching it to the finish. Whether or not you feel it was worthwhile or not will be in question, if you like features of this kind (I am thinking Amelie [DVD]  or Lost in Translation [DVD]  but those are features with more rewatch value than this production).
I watched this on the strength of Michelle Williams' presence: since first seeing her in the magnificent 'Station Agent', she has proved herself to be an outstanding actress who has often been in quirky, indie films which focus on character and eschew the glossy production values of standard Hollywood fare. (Try 'Blue Valentine', 'Meek's Cutoff', 'Wendy and Lucy', as well as the more mainstream 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Marilyn'.) In that context, this is something of a disappointment, though still eminently watchable. I was also interested to see another Sarah Polley film as an earlier acclaimed film had left me cold: I really wanted to see what I might have missed about her work.
The basic premise is interesting enough, of a woman falling out of love and finding emotional and sexual liberation outside her marriage, and I find it very difficult to put my finger on why it doesn't quite succeed, though I think part of the problem lies with Seth Rogan: for me he seems so limited in conveying a character who is interesting or appealing enough to have attracted Margot that it is hard to believe their relationship ever existed, though conversely, I suppose, one can see why she wishes for escape! His voice, for example, is utterly lacking in flexibility and nuance.
Some of the elements suggest a romcom package: her phobias which prompt the pretence of disability to enable her to cope with them; Lou's (Rogan) exclusive focus on chicken cookery; the stranger on the plane who happens to live over the street and earns money selling rickshaw rides. And yet the film presents it all 'for real', and not entirely convincingly so. The arrival of the ending seems clumsily delayed so the sense of the story arc is mismanaged (and I really don't think Polley is 'playing' with audience expectation in an interesting or subversively creative way). The, for want of a better description, sexual montage which we see towards the end, presumably inserted to show how far Margot has moved on, is not convincingly presented as a plausible development. Or perhaps she has just got herself into another relationship that isn't 'right'. But that's a guess, not anything the film really seems to imply or illuminate.
I found Polley's previous film 'Away From Her'(acclaimed by critics), a real damp squib too, doubly disappointing as family experience made me particularly eager to see a thoughtful film about the effects of dementia within a relationship: that too was only OK, and not a film I would want to see again.
This is a romantic drama about a Margot, (Michelle Williams -`My Week with Marilyn') who whilst scouting for a job crosses the path of Daniel (Luke Kirby). They share seats on the flight home and then a cab and as luck would have it he has only recently moved in opposite her house in what looks like an idyllic little road. It is quite obvious that there is a big spark going on between them but as he exits the taxi she drops the bombshell that she is married.
Well as with all dramas worth their salt Daniel, who is a rickshaw puller by day and an unexhibited artist by night, keeps up the gentle persuasion and Margot does the minimum to deter his advances. Meanwhile life for Margot and cookery, writer hubby, Lou, (Seth Rogen -`The Green Hornet' and `Kung Fu Panda 2') carry on as normal with overt displays of affection and extended family life. The problem is Lou is just a really nice bloke, and a loving husband, so will she do the right thing or jump into the back of the rickshaw for a free ride or two?
This is a film that whilst firmly set in the rom/drama model actually hits a few cliché land mines at the start and then goes all out to avoid them and become a very grown up story of love, relationships and heart break. There is some very adult language, frontal nudity and gratuitous smooching on m ore than one occasion.
The nice thing is that all of the players are given a fair shot at the limelight and are presented as real people rather than bit players in someone else's life and I really appreciate that in a film. The sound track is rather good too with at least a couple of contributions from Micah P. Hinson, oh yes and The Buggles - trust me it works. This is a Canadian production from director and writer Sarah Polley who has made a rather good film that should appeal to all those who like a bit of reality injected into their romantic drama.
Take This Waltz is a brave attempt to sensitively portray someone falling out of love with their husband and into a different kind of love with someone else. It's full of interesting characters with realistic quirks and foibles, and director Sarah Polley works hard not to force the plot along. The problem is, the pace is so leisurely that very little has happened by the end, and most of the tensions are left unresolved.
There are some very good moments in this film -- protagonist Margot (Michelle Williams) is so terrified of getting lost in airports and missing her connecting flight that she pretends to be disabled so that staff are forced to push her from one place to another in a wheel-chair. Her husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is a cookbook writer who only knows about cooking chicken, so they always eat chicken. Her best friend is an alcoholic on the wagon, and her new love interest is a rickshaw puller. When Margot finally leaves Lou, she does it not to be with Daniel (Luke Kirby) but because she discovers that her husband has been playing a practical joke on her in the shower every day of their married life.
If you're looking for a break from Hollywood fare with its stylised characters, meaningless sex, over-dramatic relationships and unlikely sequences, then Take this Waltz may be the breath of fresh air you are looking for. This is a real film festival type film, and, indeed, it has received accolades from the Hamburg, Hollywood and San Sebastian festivals, as well as from numerous directors' and crtics' societies.
The trouble is -- from my point of view -- there is just not enough happening in the story, and it is not told far enough or the characters explored deeply enough to justify it. It's the film equivalent of sitting in a café listening to someone tell you what starts as quite a passionate story, but which peters out the further it goes. There is no moment of clarity in this film, no turning point, no achievement (or dashing) of initial hope. Margot's life desperately needs something to happen in it, but nothing really does. Also, she desperately needs someone to understand why she ran away, but she never explains it, and no-one guesses it. Despite this, you don't come away with the virtuous feeling of having watched a semi-documentary, because Sarah Polley ensures we get the point by accompanying key moments with tracks like Video Killed the Radio Star and Leonard Cohen's Take This Waltz.
This may be a pivotal film in Polley's development as a director. I hope so. I would like to think that the best is yet to come.