Movie Review: Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz [2011]
Director: Sarah Polley
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
Runtime: 116 minutes

It has come to the point where I will see anything Michelle Williams is in. She has become one of the most consistently brilliant actresses over the last few years, and she does not disappoint in Take This Waltz, director Sarah Polley’s second feature film.

Williams stars as Margot, a happily married 28-year-old freelance writer who begins to fall for the curious artist across the street. This new love interest, Daniel (Luke Kirby), intrigues her in ways her loving husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), does not. While Lou is a caring, playful companion, Margot wonders what life would be like with someone else. Her strong attraction to the handsome Daniel begins a “waltz” of sorts — she doesn’t want to cheat on her husband, but she doesn’t want to cease seeing her neighbor as well. Ultimately, something has to give.

We are teased for much of the film’s running time. Margot and Daniel continue to push the boundaries of a platonic relationship, and we are there to witness the internal struggles of both, as well as the obliviousness of Lou. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation for any of them, but the emotions are just too powerful to control.

Take This Waltz [2011] -- Seth Rogen & Michelle Williams

During one critical scene, Margot and her sister-in-law Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) are showering completely nude with a number of other women at the local gym. Stripped of their self-consciousness, they are talking about whatever comes to mind, including relationships (naturally). One older woman bluntly states that “new things become old” — words that expertly resonate within Margot’s love triangle.

In essence, that statement is the moral of the film. Sure, the grass always looks greener on the other side, but is it worth leaving the comforting stability of the present in order to get there? Just how far is too far?

My favorite moments in the film have a key 80s song as their backdrop — “Video Killed the Radio Star.” In one powerful scene, Margot and Daniel are riding together in an amusement park ride as the song blasts over the speakers. They are having a great time, laughing, throwing their hands up in the air. Suddenly, the ride abruptly stops, as does the music. The stark reality of their inappropriate behavior hits them like a bag of bricks — they had a moment of pure bliss without any lingering thoughts of their situation, but it ended just as quickly as it began. The song is also used in a later scene to echo this sentiment.

Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz is not without faults, however. It takes a while to build momentum, and this may throw off some casual viewers. Also, a strong argument could be made for the film to end about 15 minutes earlier than it did. I was expecting the movie to end on one particularly sad note, but Polley kept it going in favor of adding a different type of resolution. In a way, everything came back around full circle. The jarring transition to the film’s “real” ending threw me off at first, and in fact, it had me question my overall rating. The more I think about it, however, the more I like it. Still, the conclusion will not appeal to everyone.

Not enough can be said about Michelle Williams’ performance here, as she is fantastic as always. Her character is eccentric and lively, and we always have a feel for her mental thought processes. Luke Kirby is also surprisingly great as the rickshaw-driving artist who is charming but with the right amount of sleaze to back it up. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see both Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman in dramatic roles, each doing well with their limited screen time.

The initial reception to Take This Waltz has been decidedly mixed, but for my money this is a moving film that feels both fresh and authentic. Those who have been in similar situations will easily feel a connection. Folks, keep an eye on Sarah Polley — she looks to have a very bright future behind the camera.

8/10

 
Take This Waltz is currently available on demand. The U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for June 29.

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25 thoughts on “Movie Review: Take This Waltz [2011]

  1. SDG says:

    Good to see someone arguing about from the other side on ending. I was going to check it out anyway, but with your score I can go in with an open mind and see which side I belong to. Nice Review !!

  2. Chris says:

    I enjoyed reading your review, Eric, and I agree with SDG, nice to see you are not complaining too much, but seeing the positives.
    Easy to warm up to M Williams’ cute antics, even when she’s misbehaving, ha ha ( : I guess women can look more objectively at her attitude, I certainly can’t ( ;
    Wouldn’t that be something, if we could all be stripped of our self-consciousness…I hadn’t perceived the scene from that angle.

    I think my complaint with Take This Waltz is we are given most of the answers, so there is not enough “space” for the viewers to make up our own minds. So cool those cute scenes are on youtube ( :

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Chris. That’s a good point about the movie providing a lot of the answers, though while researching the film I was surprised to see so many people confused about its message. I don’t know if they were just basing their opinion off of the trailer or what, but a lot of people thought the movie was glorifying divorce and/or adultery. I thought the overall message was pretty clear — as the older woman said, “new things become old.”

  3. Alex Withrow says:

    Glad you dug this so much. I really did too, it was just that damn ending. Either way, the best parts were really very effective. That “Video Killed the Radio Star” scene was fantastic.

  4. Castor says:

    Good to hear this is a moving and heartfelt movie. Michelle Williams consistently does great work on screen so I’m definitely looking forward to this despite the somewhat mixed critical reception.

    • Eric says:

      It’s always interesting when a film can evoke such strong reactions in both directions — with valid reasons for either side. I would love to hear your thoughts once you’re able to check it out, Castor.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Scott. This was just released on demand last week so it seems quite a few bloggers have been checking it out. I’ll keep an eye out for a future review at FRC. 🙂

  5. websheriff says:

    WEB SHERIFF
    Who You Gonna Call
    Tel +44(0)208-323 8013
    Fax +44(0)208-323 8080
    websheriff@websheriff.com
    http://www.websheriff.com

    Hi twscritic,

    On behalf of Magnolia Pictures and the movie’s producers, many thanks for plugging “Take This Waltz” … .. thanks also, on behalf of the distributor and producers, for not posting any pirate copies or non-trailer clips of “Take This Waltz” and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, previews, then the official trailer is available for fans and bloggers to post / host / share etc at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNvMgWt2kXU… .. for further details of on-line promotions for this movie and Magnolia / Magnet releases generally, check-out http://www.magpictures.com and their official YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/MagnoliaPictures.

    Thanks again for your plug.

    Regards,

    WEB SHERIFF

  6. ruth says:

    I didn’t know this was done by Sarah Polley. Glad to hear that she’s becoming quite a formidable director. We need more female directors in Hollywood. I’m not too keen on Rogen but I might give this a rent because of Polley and Michelle Williams.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, I’m really interested in seeing what Polley does next. Don’t let Rogen’s inclusion in this movie deter you from seeing it — he is much more subdued than usual. If anything, we feel more sympathetic to him than anyone else in the film.

  7. impsndcnma says:

    Haven’t heard much about this movie. Maybe I’ll look into since the pairing sounds interesting. Did it just come out on DVD?

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