Take This Waltz DVD Review

I remember where I first heard of Sarah Polley’s latest film, Take This Waltz.

It was advertised on a large poster in one of the London Underground stations, depicting Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen decked in brightly coloured shirts and grinning inanely at each other.

So far, so rom-com.

However I recently caught the film on dvd, and a rom-com this most certainly ain’t.

From the out-of-focus opening shot, dreamily drizzled in melancholic acoustic guitar, we are strongly warned that a happy denouement may not necessarily be on the cards.

Cue a collective groan from the Seth Rogen fans who were expecting something more in the vein of Knocked Up or The Forty Year Old Virgin.

Instead, we are offered a bittersweet relationship tale about basically shitting or getting off the pot.

And perhaps about wondering why you were on the pot in the first place.

The story revolves around Margot (Michelle Williams): a young, married woman who finds herself experiencing the Seven Year Itch about two years too early.

On a business trip, she has a chance encounter with a stranger called Daniel (Luke Kirby); he is an artsy chap who has coincidentally just moved in across the street from Margot and her dependable hubby Lou (Seth Rogen).

Attraction between Margot and Daniel is instant, and so ensues a long, indecisive summer, with Margot questioning her relationship with Lou and her marital obligations.

One of the main strengths of the film is that it doesn’t push the audience to take sides nor offer any clear character to root for; this is mainly down to the three central performances.

In the role of Margot, Williams veers to just the right side of annoying, convincingly pained by her predicament.

Kirby is more charismatic than the usual pretty-boy types for which roles like these are usually reserved. His patience with the situation is endearing, albeit arguably unrealistic.

And Rogen is impressively subtle in a rare straight role as the defenceless Lou, making any prospect of seeing his marriage unravel as palatable as watching a puppy get shot.

The cast are ably assisted by a script which takes a few unexpected turns, diluting romantic gloop with spikier dialogue.

Or as Daniel would describe it, ‘a mixture of sweet and fuck’.

But this waltz is not without its missteps.

The film’s quirky edges make it at times hard to take seriously as a drama: Daniel is a rickshaw driver with an unfeasibly large one-bed apartment, whilst Lou writes chicken-only cookbooks.

Do people like this really exist?

As for freelance writer Margot, she appears to spend her time doing precious little other than ricochet between her two blokes.

And while some scenes amuse, particularly an aqua-robics class, they seem to belong in another movie entirely.

Overall Take This Waltz is redeemed by an intelligent conclusion, even if it does suffer from a few false endings along the way.

But perhaps that’s Polley’s whole point: there aren’t any happy endings or easy answers when it comes to love, merely lessons learned.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2013