Monday, August 6, 2012

TAKE THIS WALTZ (2012)

Written & Directed by Sarah Polley


Where & When: Laemmle's  NoHo 7, North Hollywood, CA. July 31, 2012  1:15PM



Actress, Sarah Polley is becoming better known as a gifted filmmaker as her last film was the acclaimed, "Away From Her" which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and star, Julie Christie a nomination for Best Actress in 2006. "Take This Waltz", the writer/director's latest, is the story of a married woman (highlighted with another fine performance by Michelle Williams) whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with a man and the strong connection she has with him that could possibly cause the demise of her marriage. Ms Polley's skill is on full display here but this film doesn't burn nearly as bright as her previous work.

Williams plays Margot, a writer on assignment out of town, meets the cute, Daniel (Luke Kirby) on the plane ride back home to Toronto. As the two chat, they share an easy rapport, flirting and teasing each other like a couple who have been together longer than a few hours. On the cab ride home, Margot finally confesses that she's married but there is a slight complication as Daniel lives right across the street.

Margot's husband, Lou (Seth Rogan) who is working on a cook book containing the many ways to prepare chicken, is sweet, funny and completely devoted to his wife. As they approach their fifth wedding anniversary, Margot is feeling somewhat unsatisfied and frustrated with her life and marriage despite her husband being a genuinely nice guy as she's well aware of how fortunate she is to have him. However, this knowledge doesn't prevent her from looking next door for opportunities to spend fleeting moments with her neighbor. She is able to see him regularly as Daniel makes his living as a rickshaw operator but he's a talented artist who is reluctant to show his work publicly. Their complicated relationship remains chaste, although with great difficulty, but for every deliriously wondrous occasion Margot spends with Daniel, the more tortured and confused she becomes.

The plot for "Take This Waltz" is fairly standard but Ms Polley tries to juice things up by using creative camera tricks (which is beautifully shot by Luc Montpellier who worked with the director on "Away With Her") and inserting some quirky images like one involving a strange effect caused by peeing in a swimming pool and a non-sexual scene involving full-frontal nudity featuring women of various shapes and ages but none of this can make up for a surprising lack of any type of real emotional connection to this familiar tale. Ms Williams, who was Oscar-nominated last year for her breathtaking turn as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn", dazzles once again with a fine performance however, you still don't feel much sympathy as her character comes across as selfish and insensitive to both men's feelings. We are never given any clear explanation for her deep conflict, beyond possible boredom, as her husband and the neighbor are nearly indistinguishable, as these understanding, perfectly behaved gentlemen barely raise their voices. Perhaps a real bad boy will fulfill her uncertain desires or maybe she should just spend some quality time single to sort out what exactly she's searching for.

Comedians, Rogan and Sarah Silverman, (who plays his alcoholic sister fresh out of rehab, struggling to remain sober) are brought on board to, apparently, lighten the mood but their trademark humor is used minimally and while they expertly flex their dramatic muscles, ultimately the performers feel wasted.

"Take This Waltz" explores one woman's anguish as she grapples with the electrifying passion of new love with the difficulties of trying to hang on to a solid, long-term relationship. While the film certainly has moments of intriguing drama and visual delights but it never gains enough momentum to become fully engaging to actually be concerned with which man she finally ends up with.