Movie Review: Take This Waltz (2011)

Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen, playing against type) have been married for five years and are fairly pleasantly ensconced in a slightly-Bohemian domestic life in Toronto.  When Margot goes on a work trip and gets seated next to an attractive and charming man named Daniel (Luke Kirby), the two flirt rather innocently and then decide to share a cab.  Things become more complicated when Margot and Daniel discover that they live across the street from one another.  Thus begins Margot’s dilemma about her feelings for both Lou and Daniel.  While she doesn’t want to hurt her husband, she can’t deny that she has feelings for Daniel.

Sarah Polley wrote and directed this quiet little independent movie, and it’s by far her strongest film yet.  Rich in characters and emotionally generous, this film is one to see if you like contemplative character studies that offer emotionally raw situations with no easy answers.  By far one of my favorite films of 2012, this is one worth seeing.

Ambivalence dominates the movie, and viewers will have to work to figure out who the characters are and what they want.  Margot is indecisive and confused about what she wants, but she is never passive about it.  As she continues to flirt with Daniel, she clearly worries about how it will impact her mostly happy marriage to the sweet, clueless Lou.  She’s split down the middle with desire for the man she knows and loves and the stranger she can’t stop thinking about.  That’s part of what makes this movie so effective: her desire is palpable and her confusion is real.

All of the characters in Polley’s movie are remarkably well-done.  No one is any one thing, and that helps create the feeling of total uncertainty that dominates the movie.  Viewers are given some information but are not privy to what goes on inside each of the character’s heads.  As a result, the viewers sit in a state of suspense about what will happen for much of the movie.  It’s intense and riveting.

The movie never crosses over into melodrama and is never overly melancholic.  Instead, it presents the story and allows the viewer to create their own conclusions.  Although this reviewer’s reading of the film was ultimately fairly depressing, not every viewer will walk away with that feeling.  Polley injects the film with warmth and color and music, and the strong performances linger long after the film has finished.

Seriously, seriously worth seeing.  Highly recommended.

Take this Waltz was originally released in September of 2011 (but didn’t show up here in the Twin Cities until last month).  You might still be able to catch it in theaters or On Demand, but the DVD is due in October.

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Take This Waltz (2011)

    • Clementine Bojangles says:

      Thanks! I’m not surprised by that at all–I think this is a divisive film, absolutely. It helps that I love everyone who is in it, I think.

      • As do I, and I was really happy so see Luke Kirby doing a movie, but it just didn’t have any kind of effect on me and all the people I saw it with felt the same way I did. Not my cup of tea to say the least.

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