Margot (Michelle Williams) and Daniel (Luke Kirby) are about to enter a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. They’re about to enter The Meet-Cute Zone. Coined by Roger Ebert in reference to the unlikely meeting of two people destined to fall in love, Take This Waltz has our two lovebirds meeting during a historical re-enactment of the lashing of an adulterer (thanks, Parks Canada). Both there and during a later meeting on a connecting flight to Toronto, skittish Margot is initially put off by, and eventually warms to, Daniel’s disarming honesty. The only problems? Margot is married to Lou (Seth Rogen) and is best friends with his sister, Gerri (Sarah Silverman); leaving Lou means leaving everything she built over the last few years and taking a chance on a stranger. Is the risk worth it? As Silverman’s Gerri puts it, “is it worth trading that in for something exciting with someone I may not like in ten years?”
Take This Waltz, the new film written and directed by Sarah Polley, mostly succeeds as a drama while laying Polley’s strengths and weaknesses bare on the screen. As a director, Polley frames her sequences beautifully, gets incredible performances out of her actors (particularly Williams and Silverman) and knows when to let the characters stop talking and let the film speak for itself. Conversely, Polley’s script suffers from some incredibly clunky writing. Having two characters in a love triangle meet during a (recreated) lashing of an adulterer is pretty sophomoric stuff and I dare you not to groan aloud when Margot confesses that she has an intense fear of “connections” before hastily adding “on planes, I mean”. With the exception of Gerri and Margot, none of the characters seem to be anything more than stock types: with Rogen the nice, but immature and slightly clueless husband and Kirby as Margot’s paperback romance dream man.
The main strength of the film rests with its actors. Michelle Williams continues her pretty stellar post-TV acting career (yes, all is forgiven for Halloween H2O) and Sarah Silverman impresses once again after her recent work on Louis (I know Waltz was filmed earlier, but it’s only reaching Newfoundland—and my eyes—as of now). They are the ones who provide the film with its best character moments, particularly towards the end where Gerri offers a different perspective on Margot’s actions.
In the interest of creating a Google Bomb, let me add that Waltz features a Michelle Williams/Sarah Silverman shower scene. Michelle Williams/Sarah Silverman shower scene. Thank you and goodnight.
Take This Waltz will show at Avalon Mall Empire Studio 12 on September 27 as part of MUN Cinema.