Margot (Michelle Williams) has been happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen) for five years. However, something’s missing, and their matrimonial bliss seems oddly flawed. When on a business trip she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), who also inexplicably has the seat next to her on the flight home and even more inexplicably is her neighbour from across the street. But between them there’s a spark and a chemistry which Margot just cannot ignore. Can – and does – she want to stay with faithful and doting Lou, or is Daniel the escape and they new lease of life that she needs?
On the face of it, the premise looks a little too much like Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. But what writer/director Sarah Polley does is thankfully make the film very much itself – in that it doesn’t attempts to swap Milford Junction for Toronto, rather it actually draws a blissfully odd and awkward portrait of love in distress, prising out a natural and a very honest narrative.
However, it doesn’t start off particularly well. Some of the obvious ironies are handed to the audience a little too ham-handedly. Margot’s exposition about her fear of being stuck between two things is far from subtle. But as the film goes on, the nuances, nods, and winks towards Polley’s deft intelligence and astute observations are the charms that carry this film and makes it so watchable.
Polley’s direction is also part of a great excellent creative team. Luc Montpellier’s cinematography and Jody Colero’s supervision of the soundtrack, which includes some very well placed songs by Leonard Cohen amongst Jonathan Golsmith’s wonderful original score, make the film quirky and dizzingly colourful – creating an hypnotic experience that you can’t help but indulge in. Polley also manages to produce something that’s incredibly polished but without feeling at all sanitised. In short, it’s an excellent piece of filmmaking.
Polley’s cast also give all-round startling performances. Rogen, known better for his successes executing immature japery, uses his childlike charms to create a very mature and loveable Lou, bringing a grounded sincerity and innocence that seems to come from him with agile ease. His performance is juxtaposed against Kirby’s uncomfortable, predatory but smouldering seducer as the unlikely bewitching boy next door. Sarah Silverman also makes a fantastic appearance as the larger-than-life and catty recovering alcoholic sister-in-law. Her well placed and thinly veiled home truths really cut through the schmatlz like a carving knife, which Silverman delivers superbly bluntly as she’s in her element in the role. But it’s Williams who really steals the show as the leading lady. Managing to portray exhausted melodrama at every turn with an uncanny grace and authenticity. It’s the enigma that she emanates which really makes it difficult not to be captivated by her performance. You cherish and chastise her in equal parts, and are constantly left wondering just exactly where her choice will eventually fall.
At a lengthy two hours long, Polley’s narrative resolve does start to drag a little – even though final scene is one of heartbreaking genius and is worth the wait. But you can’t help but wonder if it could have been tied up a little more swiftly for the sake of some flowery philosophy. All in all, this is an excellent and utterly enchanting film that is surprisingly unexpected. You’ll laugh, you’ll fall in love, and you’ll be crushed by this unique and ludicrously smart and brilliant film.
Take This Waltz opens in cinemas on 17 August 2012. For more information about the film, including screenings, visit the official Facebook Page.
Featured Image: Luke Kirby (left) and Michelle Williams (right). Photograph: Courtesy of Think Jam.