Take This Waltz: A Lovely Dance

Sarah Polley, in her second outing as director, has made an absolutely beautiful film with Take This Waltz. Starring Michelle Williams as Margot and Seth Rogen as her husband of five years, Lou. As the film begins, we see a blurry Margot baking muffins. As the shot comes into focus, we see the beads of sweat on her face and the sunlight filtering through the leaves outside. We are shown her bare feet on a wooden floor as she puts the muffins in the oven to bake. She sinks to the floor as a man enters the kitchen with his back to the camera. We find out that the man is Lou. As the films progresses, it offers up a portrait of comfortable love, married love, occasionally restless love, and frustrated love between the pair. Margot is a freelance writer, and Lou is writing a chicken cookbook.He can be found at the stove most of the time and is clearly distracted with his work. Although she tries to be affectionate with him, he doesn't always find the time to stop and look at this wife. There is an awkward anniversary dinner at which Lou doesn't understand the need to talk to Margot or ask about how she is doing. Doesn't he already know all that he needs to know? And in bed, we see the familiar lovemaking of two people who have been together for a long time. In other words, the excitement seen at the beginning of a relationship has been replaced with something comfortable. 

Lou's family is also a huge presence in their lives, with regular "chicken tastings" at their home. His sister, Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) is a recovering alcoholic fearful of a relapse. She is quite fond of her sister-in-law, spending time with her at water aerobics and talking on the front porch. Sober for 10 months, she is the first to sense Margot's discontent. 

On a business trip, Margot meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), an amateur artist and professional rickshaw driver. The chemistry between them is immediate and intensifies when they realize that he lives across the street from her Toronto home. Margot is quite restless, expressing a fear of transitions, a fear of being afraid, a fear of being between things. These fears become real as she and Daniel become closer while at the same time, she remains somewhat loyal and somewhat committed to Lou. I say "somewhat" because even though they almost never touch, they share an extremely intimate and erotic moment over martinis that remain as untouched as Daniel and Margot.

The metaphor of a waltz appears throughout the film. There is a lovely scene where Daniel and Margot swim together in sync with one another that is only interrupted when, carried away by the moment, Daniel touches Margot on the ankle. The spell is then broken and Margot runs away. A form of dance can also be seen in the interactions between Margot and Lou, at once familiar and slightly out of sync. Margot is forced to make a decision regarding her life realizing that she can't stay in between things. And as in real life, her decision affects all of the lives around her. 

Sarah Polley does a superb job as director. Using the camera as a sort of dance partner, she demonstrates the fluid passage of time while the characters remain in almost the same place. This technique is seen as Margot lies quietly on her bed after being rebuffed by Lou, and also in the scenes of Margot adjusting to her new life with Daniel.  The muffin-making scene is repeated at the end of the film as if to say that Margot goes through so much to end up back at the same place where she started. 

The actors in this film turn in very strong performances, particularly Rogen in a very restrained, dramatic role, and Silverman, surprisingly adult and mature. And Michelle Williams once again demonstrates why she is an acting force to be reckoned with. And new to me, Luke Kirby is sexy and vulnerable at the same time.

I strongly recommend this film. It is not just another romantic comedy or chick flick. It is a thought-provoking, layered story that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. And if you can't wait to see it, you can download it at iTunes by clicking the link below:

Take This Waltz

Thanks for reading my review and remember, you just got buzzed!