Watched Jul 15, 2012
Jonathan Hutchings’s review:
Take This Waltz both illustrates Sarah Polley’s unique confidence as a filmmaker and her room to grow as a writer/director. When a relationship goes bad, or stale, some people do a little dance. They keep moving, keep trying, keep searching for that spark to rekindle what was once great excitement. And that is the dance they do in Take This Waltz, a somewhat illogical look at a romance headed into parts unknown. Actions and motivations don’t always add up here. Romantic films can often be given a pass on logic, taking into account that everyone has the capability to act a little loopy when it comes to relationships; here, however, Polley’s creations seem to be carrying out actions simply because they have been written down and not because they make much sense.
Michelle Williams (stellar, as always) and Seth Rogen (monotonously decent, but not worthy of the praise he's been getting) play Margot and Lou, a Montreal couple who seems to love each other and enjoy being with each other after about five years of marriage. While on a trip, Margot meets, in an extremely movie-cute way, Daniel (Luke Kirby). The next convenient contrivance comes when they find out they live across the street from each other. Margot and Daniel start bumping into each other accidentally, and then on purpose. They flirt, have intelligent conversations and get to know each other. They mentally bond without the physical connections. During it all, they perform several actions that seem artificial, even for a pair of thwarted lovebirds. For example: an ill-conceived, borderline laughable non-speaking, non-touching synchronized swimming exercise (get it? They can't touch because she's married. How clever!).
For much of the film, it looks like Polley is offering a treatise on how relationships last even when hitting rough ground. She even brings in the troubles of an alcoholic sister-in-law (Sarah Silverman) to underscore it (although I can't say this subplot adds much to the story). The film sports a loose grasp on its narrative throughout, and it eventually runs off the rails. This derailment accentuates how much the entire movie needs tightening. Too many scenes run on too long after serving their purpose. In terms of structure, it almost felt like someone handed Polley a "how to" manual for creating an indie drama that plums the troubling depths of relationships, and she hits all of the notes with varying degrees of payoff. Often times, Take This Waltz feels thin and entirely too self-conscious. Even the connection made between the film and the Leonard Cohen song it takes its name from seems a little forced and nonsensical.
That said, Take This Waltz somehow never becomes boring and usually remains insightful and contemplative. It's an admirable and honest look at the unforgiving, cyclical nature of our expectations for relationships... if you're able to put aside the contrivances.