Review: Take This Waltz (2012)

Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen star in Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz, an un-romantic comedy that’s comfortingly bitter-sweet..

Take This Waltz sits within an apparent new tradition of contemporary, anti-love stories; an un-romantic comedy that’s comfortingly bitter-sweet.

Drawing inspiration from the celestial poeticism and the haunting melody of a Leonard Cohen folk-pop song, Sarah Polley returns with her sophomore feature. Mascarading as a quirky, independent comedy Take This Waltz is an insightful deconstruction of the Rom-Com genus – it’s an offbeat film with a realist philosophy.

The adorably idiosyncratic Margot (Michelle Williams) is ‘afraid of being afraid’. Rather than plane journeys it’s the connection at the airport that scares her most. As someone who is anxious not to be stuck in transit you can imagine the peril of wearisome marital bliss. Living in a colourful, leafy suburb of Toronto she is five years married to her schlubby but kind husband, Lou (Seth Rogen) but fate rears its ugly head after Margot meets a handsome, arty neighbour, Daniel (Luke Kirby), and they discover their attraction is more than a frisson of excitement.

Relationships can be like a ballroom waltz where the dancers revolve in a perpetual circle. Margot’s desperate need for romance and possibility leads her to Daniel but the reality is that passion eventually withers. Take This Waltz, despite its bright cinematography and moments of comedy, is a hard-headed love story following in the same trend as Blue Valentine and Like Crazy – they’re honest and miserable.

In one scene Margot and her alcoholic sister-in-law Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) are in shower room after a rib-tickling ‘accident’ in a public swimming pool. Completely unsexualised they stand fully naked with some elderly women; it’s a refreshingly frank celebration of imperfections. The assertion is that, despite time being precious, it is essential to have the ability to cope with the monotonous flux of everyday life rather than siezing the day all the time because life is not that perfect. Her new romance is predictably fated to fail.

Take This Waltz is a perceptive, character study of the turmoil of both commitment and desire. Its bleak but realist viewpoint is consoling – a romantic drama that’s not for optimists.

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