Take This Waltz tries to be tragic, but we just can't feel any empathy for the main character simply due to her personality. This was not the outcome I expected from the film as I was rather looking forward to seeing director Sarah Polley's follow up to her touching 2006 film Away from Her. While it seems that Polley has gathered an appealing enough cast to relate her story of tested love the inherit problem with the film is that story itself. It is just something about the idea of a young couple lost to the idea that nothing lasts. It is depressing to the degree not that the audience can't deal with it, but to the fact that it is done with such cutting deception to what is made out to be a real and humble couple. For all of its indie garb it is pretentious in actually affecting the greater importance of the relationship it chronicles. It instead comes off as trying too hard not only to paint an authentic portrait of relationships but as a piece of work underdeveloped to the point it operates only on those cliches that it tries so hard to avoid. In essence it is almost a parody of itself the way these people operate in a world defined by its quirkiness. I wanted to like the film, I really did. At first glance you have to wonder what there is not to like. Michelle Williams? Seth Rogen? Sarah Silverman? All funny, talented people who seem to know a good project when they see one (though I know an argument would automatically be made about Rogen here) but when each of them see something in a nice, little indie script about love and relationships you think there might be something inspiring here. Instead it just turns out to be a tepid interpretation of an experience that could have easily struck a chord with so many.

Lou (Seth Rogen) and Margot (Michelle Williams) are
faced with an unexpected challenge.
We are first introduced to Margot (Williams) as she is on a writing assignment in Nova Scotia composing a brochure for a Canadian tourist attraction (a job that serves well enough to pay the bills apparently) but the importance of this trip is that our main character first meets Daniel here (Luke Kirby). Daniel is similar in age to Margot, attractive and willing to call her out on her intriguing perspective towards life and terminals. I don't know if it was just me, but knowing Margot has a husband back home who has no aspirations in love outside of taking care of her forever does nothing but make you dislike Daniel from the very beginning, and Margot even more. As they both arrive home, conversation really sparking when they are seated near one another on the plane and share a cab ride home we learn that Daniel just so happens to live across the street from Margot and her husband. In what is the shining light in this exercise in narcissism coated with sunshine is Seth Rogen as the unsuspecting Lou. Lou also has the blessing to have one of those jobs that seems to carry little responsibility while garnering enough of an income for he and his wife to live comfortably while not really considering much of their future together. Maybe that is part of the inherent problem here, but if Margot is looking for more or as we come to see it, simply something new, she doesn't stray far from her first pick as Daniel is even more artsy and likely has less of a promising career ahead. Who cares, what they're doing is fulfilling right?

Daniel (Luke Kirby) presents an unexpected dilemma
for the married Margot.
The real jolt of what made the film so disheartening though was not the fact it isn't something people can relate to. Naturally, there are going to be folks who relate to feeling trapped within certain things, trapped because they do in fact feel an obligation to the person they are with more than they do a connection and this in turn raises some interesting questions the film addresses. Those having to do with true love, what it is, what that even means and if real, honest happiness can ever be achieved through it. What makes it so hard to get in line with and really understand the sticky dilemma the film chronicles is our lack of care for that main character. This is strange, as I said earlier, seeing as she is played by the very meek and loving Michelle Williams, but not even Williams skill can bring Margot to resonate with the masses. She is annoying, more a distraction than adorable and we begin to wonder why Lou even cares what he is losing and why Daniel puts so much on the line for such a person. I understand the point director Polley is trying to illustrate with Margot; that there is nothing wrong with her, that she only feels her relationship has gone stale and though she tries, in her opinion, to salvage it the best she can, the shiny new guy across the street is just to tempting to let the opportunity go. As the movie describes it, life has a gap and sometimes people seek out things to fill that gap. Margot certainly does that, she takes the easy route or maybe the route she believes she really wants and who's to take that away from her? Still, we all know in the end that everything gets old at some point and Margot will end up behind more than she will ahead. Stuck in a place where it is not so easy to find a dancing partner as it once was.

Margot and her sister-in-law Geraldine (Sarah Silverman)
have an argument over each of their current
None of this is an excuse for the first hour and fifteen minutes though. It creeps by at such a slow pace it might be he cause of my dislike for the characters all the more. It becomes boring, even when Rogen appears on screen and evokes such loving goofiness that we ache for him to know the truth we also can't help but feel like we don't care all that much either. If you'd like to see a better film addressing a relationship from the end rather than the traditional rom com of boy meets girl than I would recommend something like Celeste and Jesse Forever over this. Where the current film under review attempts to paint a portrait of two people who have been in a relationship for quite some time, one growing restless the other completely content the Rashida Jones starrer gives a more honest look at the resonations of a break-up on the soul of a person with a more clear head and cast of characters that we feel we understand even if we may not agree we let their decisions pass whereas in Take this Waltz we can hardly stand to watch them operate and we certainly can't get behind them and root for the relationship to work. Some critics will enjoy this if for anything because it depicts a different picture of relationships than anything the Hollywood pipeline would ever produce, but just because it is different doesn't automatically make it more satisfying or even good. I liked parts of the film, the setting, the costume design the overall look of the film in general was very aesthetically pleasing but in the end I couldn't relate and I couldn't see why anyone would want to be like Margot.

No comments:

Post a Comment