Take This Waltz – An adult drama on par with Blue Valentine – directed by Sarah Polley

take-this-waltz2 Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t know about this one until one of my best friends told me about it, my “indie friend” actually who usually knows more about this stuff than I do (maybe I SHOULD get that subscription to Entertainment Weekly like she has…) and that was partially cuz she thought the guy in it was hot – no, it wasn’t Seth Rogen. Disappointed in myself because it’s directed AND written by Sarah Polley, who is wonderful, and you should know about. She directed and wrote the movie Away From Her back in 2006 as well, which was nominated for an Oscar, which shouldn’t surprise anyone because it was also co-written by Alice Munro, who has been an incredible short story and novel writer for a very long time – I linked you to a beginner’s education about her in case you wanted to learn something today, because she has written some amazing stuff. Look I’m even gonna teach you something new within the first paragraph, my blog is DIFFERENT, and you are privileged to be reading stuff from someone as cool as me. But anyways, so Sarah Polley has also been in some great movies – you’d probably know her most notably from the Dawn of The Dead remake a few years back – but she’s played in some incredible indies from years ago – ones like The Sweet Hereafter, which should DEFINITELY be seen before this one, and if you want something a little troubling, then The Secret Life of Words too, which also features that guy from the Shawshank Redemption in it. I could go on gushing about her and talking about other great movies she’s been in, but instead I’ll shut the hell up and get to the damn review, which I’m sure is what you are yelling at the computer screen by now.

images So this movie has the pretty much always great Michelle Williams, a bit of an indie darling these days – who knew that Jen from Dawson’s Creek would ever go this far, and become the most popular of the bunch by far? I sure didn’t. But she was great way back then as the slutty girl next door, and she just built upon that in every other movie she has been in, and normally if you see her name in the credits, you will probably have yourself a great movie – you might even have a classic that will change your opinion on what the word “movie” means, and may even enter your top 10 favorite movies of all time like it did mine – I’m talking about Blue Valentine there, by the way. And for god’s sake, if you haven’t seen that movie yet, turn this review off, don’t even bother with this movie first, and watch that one instead. It’s incredible. This movie is a sort of Blue Valentine light actually, yes it very much deserves its R rating again because of the quite graphic sex scenes we see toward the end, and also a bit of pointless full frontal nudity – but hey, everyone loves pointless full frontal nudity, right? I know I sure love me some. But the subject matter is decidedly less dark, and something that has been tackled many times before in lesser movies – the idea that a wife is unsatisfied in her marriage, and didn’t even really know she was until she meets another man. The other man comes in the form of Luke Kirby, who is actually a relatively unknown actor except for a lot of tv stuff and having played in that weird movie with the grown up Anakin Skywalker, but he definitely provides a more than adequate character for Michelle Williams’ Margot to fall in love with pretty much right off the bat. We have the obligatory “meet-cute” with them both on vacation, and then, of course, ending up sitting together on the plane. But because of these two great actors, we buy it pretty readily that these two have chemistry. We don’t have Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock up there for instance, we actually have GOOD actors. They share a cab together, and – surprise! – the big maguffin here is that he happens to live across the street from her, she just never knew it. Stupid, right? Don’t worry, you’ll still like the movie. Trust me.

take_this_waltz_3_630_pxlw So the husband is played by the hit-or-miss Seth Rogen, and I gotta tell ya, he’s in top form in this one. Like, this is one of his best roles. He plays this role in a subdued fashion, something he isn’t well known for at all. But man, does he ever nail it. Margot and Lou (Rogen) have what can only be classified as an…interesting marriage. They’ve been married for around five years, but it just seems like…they never really progressed as a couple from the start. As in like, they still do baby talk, they say strange disturbing things to each other to be “cute”, and they just seem like a couple that probably fell in love in high school and just sorta went with it from there, they never found anyone else so they figured what the hell, might as well stick together. They seem happy enough, just like any genuine couple you are likely to find in the world. This is why the movie works on a lot of levels – the relationships seem real. And, much like any other couple in the world, there is also, just maybe, that something missing behind the surface. That something missing comes in the form of Daniel (Kirby) for Margot.

take this waltz 2 Daniel is new and fresh to Margot – her relationship with Lou hasn’t necessarily gotten stale per se, but it just seems like its gotten boring, its in a rut, nothing interesting happens anymore. This idea is presented incredibly well by the fact that Lou is a writer of cookbooks…but he only cooks with chicken. They have some variation of chicken every night, and he often jokes that she’s probably been tired of chicken since they’ve been married. It’s a bit more than the chicken, Lou. Daniel is new and exciting, an artist, he’s all the things that Lou isn’t really – creative in a different way that involves more than just chicken, he’s in good shape because he is one of those rickshaw drivers you may or may not see anymore – I don’t really know because the only huge town I’ve been to is Chicago, but anyways, he does that for a living, which is also exciting, weird and different. I think I’ve established that he just brings something different to the table, which is exactly what Margot needs – or does she?

This is why the movie works and should absolutely be watched by anyone who loves the romance movies, but is tired of the same old crap. It’s real, much in the same vein that Blue Valentine is real. Margot questions herself throughout the entire movie, as well she should, and in a lesser movie, of course she would have banged the hell out of Daniel, and there would have been a big fight with Lou, etc – all the same crap we’ve seen before. Instead, like an adult, she puts herself through all the paces – is this what she wants? Will she be happy with Daniel? Is she happy ENOUGH with Lou? What the hell is it to be happy anyways? Of course, none of us really know, at least I sure as hell don’t think we do. Sarah Polley gets that, and nails these ideas down in her movie. And this why the movie is a great success, and you should watch it.

20047842.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxx Now we’ll come to my only issue with this movie – and it is the absolutely criminal underutilization of Sarah Silverman, and a couple other supporting characters in this movie. The sidestory with Silverman isn’t just a tacked on addition to the movie to stretch it out to its almost two hour length – she represents exactly what Margot could become, Margot on the opposite end of the spectrum. Geraldine (Silverman) is also happily married, but there are some darker issues with her that come to light later in the movie, that actually I did not see coming, but man, was it ever good. I won’t spoil anything for you because like I said, you should definitely watch this movie, but at the end I think you will feel the same – that Margot could have very easily been Geraldine if she made different choices. Sarah Silverman, whose comedy I do not like and I never really have liked, is an actress to watch as well. I expected to hate her in this movie just like I hate her awful comedy, but man, she surprised me. So much so that I want to see what else she has done and will definitely check out anything else she is in that comes out after this, because she was fantastic in the few scenes she is in this movie. She just should have been in more of them.

So speaking of the ending – it is just as brilliant as this entire movie is. Like I said, nothing happens quickly in this, just like it doesn’t in real life with situations like this (well…usually, but that usually applies to someone who is actually just really unhappy in a marriage). This is an adult movie with adult issues, and the idea of happiness is front and center – did she make the right choice, will she be happy now with what she decides? Does she even know? You might not either, and that is the brilliance of this movie. I’d put this on my top movies of 2012 list as well, and you owe it to yourself to check this one if you want a different kind of romantic comedy – because yeah, it’s still one of those, some of the moments in this movie are downright hilarious. Another thing it has going for it.

The verdict – 3-and-a-half-stars


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