Reviews

Take This Waltz

2

The feelgood/feelbad film of the year

"I wanted to make a film about desire… to be inside what desire means, and how delicious it is.”

Not Lars von Trier talking about his forth (and fifth, and sixth…) coming Nymphomaniac, but Sarah Polley on her sophomore feature Take This Waltz.

Here the desire is sexual, yes, as cosily married Margot (Michelle Williams) enters into an athletic affair with handsome neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby).

But it’s more a desire to feel alive. “It’s like being a drug addict, an alcoholic,” says Williams on the disc’s 36-minute featurette, Taking The Waltz.

She’s talking about the emptiness that Margot feels.

Being in a loving marriage with Lou (Seth Rogen) is not the same as being in love, after all.

Though overlong and stricken, like so many North American indies, by a self-conscious quirkiness, TTW is bold, honest and heartfelt.

For starters, Lou is a good guy, funny and caring, at times inattentive but undeserving of his wife’s infidelity… and Margot, likewise, is no cold-hearted floozy.

An adult film about adultery, this exhibits an emotional and sexual frankness throughout, and Polley refuses to tidily end matters where most films would call time.

It’s a messy picture, tonally uneven, but this is as much coup as handicap: warmly lensed over a Toronto summer, TTW nonetheless paints a persuasive portrait of depression, with each of the film’s euphoric highs matched by a crushing low; you’re always aware you’re watching a movie and yet life, ragged and unscripted, intervenes.

As a filmmaker, Polley is an exciting work in progress with a genuine voice.

Williams, on the other hand, is the finished article. To watch her Margot is to see a woman beset by anguish, shame, illicit joy, sadness and, yes, desire; each thought and emotion swirls in her hazel eyes.

“I think of Margot as Sleeping Beauty, Anna Karenina, Charlie Chaplin… ” the actress says on the featurette.

Perhaps, but her Margot’s is no icon: she is an ordinary woman, extraordinarily played.

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