Film review: Take This Waltz

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Jen Perry is presently completing her Honours year in German at the University of Western Australia, and was on the student-editing committee for Trove; a multimedia creative arts journal from 2010 to 2011.

The opinions expressed in Trove are those of individual contributors and not those of the editoral committee or the steering committee (as editorial advisers) or UWA.

Still from the film Take This Waltz

Reviewed by Jen Perry

Edited by Carol Ryles

Film: Take This Waltz
Director: Sarah Polley
Running time: 116 minutes
Year of release: 2011
Language: English

What happens when you discover that happiness is possible outside of your marriage? Or that in order to succeed you must take incalculable risks? Director Sarah Polley doesn’t shy away from these difficult questions in her sophomore film Take This Waltz. Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan and Luke Kirby, this film is an inversion of the usual Hollywood love story.

Williams and Rogan are the happily married couple, Margot and Lou, who live a settled and fruitful existence as a freelance writer and cookbook author respectively. All seems well in their lives until Margot meets Daniel (played by Kirby). What follows is an evolution of Margot and Daniel’s relationship and, inevitably, a change in Margot’s feelings for Lou and their marriage.

Throughout the film, Margot is reserved and reluctant to consummate the affair. When asked by Daniel about her restraint, she says she is “afraid of being afraid.” While this fear controls Margot’s actions it holds no bearing on Polley’s willingness to force her characters into making increasingly tough decisions. A bold and honest filmmaker, Polley excels in relating the honest and realistic experience of infidelity without appropriating blame.

Kirby played Daniel with a sense of heart and intrigue that the ‘other man’ isn’t usually afforded. Williams similarly played Margot with depth and compassion, proving once again her skill at portraying introspective characters. Rogan’s both goofy and serious portrayal of Lou was also pleasantly surprising for those of us only used to seeing him in over-the-top comedies.

While there are many moments of levity, the ending to Take This Waltz left me feeling vexed, unsettled, and lost in thought for several days. Nevertheless, I recommend seeing any film with the ability to take viewers on an emotional rollercoaster.

Polley’s realistic dialogue and creation of sympathetic characters is a rarity in an industry that stereotypes stories of romance and personal growth.

Take This Waltz starts Thursday, June 14th at Luna Leederville and Luna on SX.

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