Friday, June 15, 2012

Take This Waltz ) ★ ★ ★

Kindly Reviewed by John Richard

Release Dates

Australia: 14th June
, 2012 USA:  29th June 2012   UK 17th August 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates

Perth West Australian FilmGoers: Click here for Luna Palace Website session times

Canadian Sarah Polley both wrote and directed Take This Waltz.  Perhaps better known as an actor, Sarah [she started her career as a child actor] has in recent years given her audiences fine films as both a director and screen writer.  Is Take This Waltz one of those ‘fine’ films?  To some degree it is but overall there is a feeling of being let down.  The cast is fine, the film quality good, vocal audio not so good and the music augments the story.

Take This Waltz tells the story of a young married couple Margot and Lou Rubin.  Lou (played by Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet) is well settled into married life and writes cook books specialising in ways to cook chicken.  His wife Margot (Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain) appears to have no work other than being an aspiring writer although we experience little effort in that direction.  The married life routine which Lou has settled into does not suit Margot quite as well.  On a short trip to Montreal, Margot meets Daniel (Luke Kirby, Cra$h & Burn TV) an aspiring artist.  They meet again on a plane returning to their hometown and progress to cautiously flirt. They share a taxi ride to their respective homes only to find that they live across the street from each other.  During the taxi ride Margot informs Daniel that she is married.

We are taken through the daily lives of Margot and Lou and increasingly sense that Margot is bored and discontented.  Lou’s little asides and word-games were earlier in the relationship viewed by Margot as being loving and cute, yet now she participates less enthusiatically.  We see Margot spending more time looking across the street as she watches Daniel’s comings and goings.  To support himself Daniel operates a rickshaw around the city streets.  On one occasion as Daniel arrives home Margot meets him and visits his studio/apartment.  Daniel shows her some of his artwork, some of which she finds disturbing.  Although she beats a hasty retreat on this occasion she remains drawn to Daniel and continues to flirt with him and seek out opportunities to meet.

Lou’s extended family; mother, sister, and brother-in-law feature in family gatherings and show that Margot is a part of that grouping and treated as one of them.  She has an endearing relationship with a young niece.  Aside from these moments the relationship between Margot and Lou slowly disintegrates.  Margot spends more time away from home and invariably finds herself in the company of Daniel who pursues her relentlessly promising a life wildly different from that with Lou.

Not unexpectedly Margot leaves Lou and sets out to live with Daniel.  Lou cannot comprehend why she departs, but continues on with his life by completing and publishing his book.  They meet again as part of the family group.  This time not for a celebration, but for the resolution of a problem involving Lou’s sister.  Take part in resolving the problem does not reconcile Margot with Lou, she leaves him at his front door and returns to Daniel.

Life with Daniel involves parties, fun, sexual exploration of various types, but like all lives it settles into a routine.  It is at that point where Margot again succumbs to boredom.  She still does not appear to be working, we no longer see her at her computer and the scene closes with Margot staring into the distance while leaning against an oven waiting for her cup-cakes to bake.  It was at that point that the 1960s song “Is that all there is?” would have been an appropriate theme to reflect Margot’s disenchantment.

The film presents a theme previously explored by other writers and directors, the interplay between a couple and a third party.  The story has been told in a better manner by others and Take This Waltz does not add to previous attempts or set out to excel these.  The characters are well cast.  Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby submit pleasing performances.  Michelle Williams reprises, in many ways, a role she has played before and appears to play her part by the numbers.  I was concerned that my hearing was less than adequate until other audience members commented that Williams was very difficult to understand and parts of her dialogue were near inaudible.

It is clear that Sarah Polley invested time and effort into bringing this story to the screen; the locations are well-selected; the direction is good; and, the music assists in the mood of the film.  The overall result is a film that, although pleasing, does little to add to the viewer’s experience of storytelling via the medium of the cinema.

Thank you to John Richard for this review.

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