'Take This Waltz' is daring, passionate 

click to enlarge Michelle Williams plays a happily married woman whose life gets turned around when she meets a handsome artist (Luke - Kirby) in writer-director Sarah Polley’s brilliant “Take This Waltz.” Polley’s second film takes movie romance in startling directions. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Michelle Williams plays a happily married woman whose life gets turned around when she meets a handsome artist (LukeKirby) in writer-director Sarah Polley’s brilliant “Take This Waltz.” Polley’s second film takes movie romance in startling directions.

“Take This Waltz,” the second feature film directed by actress Sarah Polley, is a crushing, but breathtaking, look at romance – the kind rarely, if ever, portrayed in movies.

Polley's previous film, the outstanding "Away from Her," delicately explored longing and heartbreak. Here she goes a step further.

In "Take This Waltz," writer Margot (Michelle Williams) is happily married to chef Lou (Seth Rogen). On a business trip, Margot meets the handsome artist Daniel (Luke Kirby). They flirt on the plane and in the cab ride home, and are both shocked to learn that they live across the street from one another.

Margot resists the temptation to continue seeing Daniel, but it happens anyway, as if beyond her control. Soon, she must make a tough decision.

The movie has more than its share of brilliant scenes. In one, Margot and Daniel take a whirling, spinning carnival ride, with romantic lighting and the sounds of the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star."

The dizzy, giddy mood is interrupted as the lights suddenly snap on, like a slap of ugly reality.
In an even more complex scene, Daniel – who makes a living pulling a rickshaw – gives Margot and Lou a ride, simultaneously painting his male rival as morally superior, but physically inferior.

Oddly, both men treat Margot with a measure of cruelty – Lou and Margot play cheerfully brutal little games with one another – as if cruelty and love were somehow inseparable.

Moreover, in several sequences, Polley uses water, both refreshing and destructive, as a theme.

In a particularly notable scene, Margot and her sister-in-law (Sarah Silverman) take a shower after an aerobic swim class. Polley plants her camera center stage to capture all the women, Williams (early 30s), Silverman (early 40s) and a group of much older women, fully naked, from head to foot. Their conversation, appropriately, is about how everything shiny and new eventually becomes old and tarnished.

Indeed, this is a harsh lesson that Margot learns in the film's final stretch, which goes in startling directions long after an ordinary romance would have ended.

Williams is extraordinary in a role both deep and rudderless, and Silverman, cynical and grounded despite her character's battle with alcoholism, matches her.

Polley must have been in a dark mood when she wrote this original screenplay, named after Leonard Cohen's 1988 song, but like the song it also contains moments of great beauty, passion and awe. It's an exemplary achievement.

MOVIE REVIEW

 

Take This Waltz
Four stars
Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman
Written and directed by Sarah Polley
Rated R
Running time 1 hour 56 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bio:
Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
Pin It
Favorite

More by Jeffrey M. Anderson

Latest in Movies

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Monday, Sep 15, 2014

Videos

Related to Movies

© 2014 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation