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8/10
You might not agree with what it has to say, but Polley has made a bold and impressive film
Movie_Muse_Reviews26 December 2012
Common terms associated with movies about infidelity would be "lust," "passion" and "betrayal," yet all those things are suspiciously absent from Sarah Polley's infidelity drama, "Take This Waltz." Her film is about as anti-soap opera as you can get — careful to avoid melodrama and dedicated to sidestepping any and all conventional depictions of adult relationships in film.

It seems odd to call Polley bold for showing it like it is, the way that she drags us through the head of her main character, Margot (Michelle Williams), who so undeniably loves her husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), yet cannot deny her feelings for Daniel (Luke Kirby), a man she meets while away for work who turns out to be her neighbor. However, when it comes to filmmaking, anything that deviates from Hollywood reality can make an audience uncomfortable, so it takes some guts to ignore that filmmaking impulse.

Consequently, a good chunk of viewers will be turned off or frustrated by "Take This Waltz," losing patience with the inaction of its characters and pulling their hair out over the tension oozing out of the most casual character interactions. Yes, "Take This Waltz" can be so uneventful that it verges on pointless, but in time Polley's intentions become very clear.

As Margot and Daniel get closer, they don't really get closer, and as Margot and Lou drift apart, they actually come off as in love as they've ever been. For much of the film, it's in Margot's head that the cheating is actually happening. Her thoughts and actions are not in sync and it becomes extremely difficult for us to find empathy for her because we feel as though she needs to act on her feelings, to either voice her displeasure to Lou or throw herself at Daniel. That's the Hollywood impulse calling.

Polley continues to resist, and as challenging as it becomes to watch at times, her film comes out better for sticking to its convictions. As she clearly intended, a switch flips in a scene in which Margot and Daniel ride an indoor Scrambler as "Video Killed the Radio Star" plays, an in the loopy chaos of the scene, we (and Margot) find a certain clarity in understanding what's going on between the main characters.

There's a definite phantasmagoria to Polley's style as well that while visually engaging contrasts a bit with what's otherwise such a nuanced, completely believable film. Several scenes play out like dream sequences, but we later can confirm they actually happened. She seems quite content to toy with our expectations and challenge what we think we know to be true about how love works.

You couldn't cast a better actress than Williams with a performance that's so hard to pull off. We only identify with Margot because we see her humanity, but it's tough to understand her and in some cases even like as a third-party observer of her story. Williams should be lauded for volunteering for this experiment and selling it as well as she does, especially when you consider that Kirby is a total unknown and Rogen is a poster child for modern comedy, for formulaic comedies that are such a far cry from "Take This Waltz."

The end of the movie is bound to bother a lot of people, while others will be intrigued at the choice and make peace with what Polley has to say because she frankly makes a good argument. Fidelity gets such a black-and-white portrayal in film and television, though maybe that's a societal thing because of its prominence in religious code. Nevertheless, she utilizes every tool at her disposal to present the gray area that we so quickly jump to deny and shudder to embrace.

It's tough to really enjoy a film that doesn't emotionally click, in which we don't feel with our hearts that things should've turned out how they did, but Polley has such a beautiful directorial style and conveys her intentions so clearly that "Take This Waltz" warrants a certain degree of respect for its bold yet so honest and impressively perceptive take on love.

~Steven C

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4/10
Proves that Seth Rogan can act, but that's about it.
MBunge6 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Writer/director Sarah Polley makes things perfectly clear from the very beginning of Take This Waltz. As Michelle Williams and her feet shift in and out of focus while making blueberry muffins during the opening credits, I felt like Polley was speaking directly to me. She was saying "I have no interest in entertaining you. I made a film that satisfies my creative vision and if you enjoy it, great. If not, suck it".

I liked Polley's take on how the desire of the moment transforms into the reality of the rest of your life. Williams and Sarah Silverman get gratuitously naked, which is always welcome. Seth Rogan also demonstrates that he could be a pretty good dramatic actor if he worked at it. Everything else about this movie left me sucking it.

Margot (Williams) and Lou (Rogan) are a young married couple who are very much in love, but Lou no longer fulfills Margot's yearnings for passion and won't give her a child as compensation. Enter Daniel (Luke Kirby), a young artist/rickshaw driver who Margot meets and flirts with on a plane and then turns out to live right across the street. As Margot and Daniel slowly dance the dance of seduction around each other, the seams of Margot and Lou's marriage even more slowly split apart. Margot eventually leaves her husband and, in what is absolutely the best part of the story, we see that her "happily ever after" winds her up in exactly the same place she was before.

The montage where Polley shows us how the burning lust of soulmates turns inevitably into tedious domesticity is some great filmmaking. That sequence alone justifies her as an artist. Another montage where Rogan goes through 6 months of post-breakup emotions in one morning, however, shows that Polley has a long way to go as a craftsman. Take This Waltz is too long, too scattered and contains too much stuff that doesn't connect.

Take the Rogan montage, which could double as his screen test for any dramatic role for which he might ever audition. Rogan does a nice job handling the acting up to that scene, but the limits of his skill show through in the montage. What is obviously supposed to be a defining moment in the film falls flat and what makes it worse is that the montage is superfluous. There's no need to feature the character of Lou so prominently. This is overwhelmingly Margot's story. No other character really gets that kind of showcase moment against Lou and he already has a smaller bit that does everything necessary to tug on the audience's heart strings. The montage doesn't pay off anything we've seen of Lou leading up to it. It doesn't lead to any plot or character moments after it. It's isolated and arbitrary and may very well have been inserted into the script for the sole purpose of enticing a star like Rogan to take an otherwise meager part.

Another isolated and arbitrary scene is where Williams, Silverman and other women of various ages and shapes are showering together in a locker room. They're completely naked and there's nothing comedic or titillating about any of it. Polley is clearly trying to make some kind of statement about women's body types and the exploitation of female nudity in cinema. That statement has nothing whatsoever to do with anything else in Take This Waltz. The dialog from the scene could have been spoken in any other setting and neither female body issues nor meta-textual commentary of film are even vaguely alluded to in the rest of the motion picture.

And while Polley does a good job at making Margot and Lou into reasonably believable human beings, Daniel is a construct. He has no thoughts, emotions or existence beyond serving the plot. Additionally, there's a subplot about Silverman's character being an alcoholic where Polley doesn't appear to understand the difference between being a drunk and having a mental illness, like bipolar disorder. Either that or alcoholism is simply illegal in Canada.

Take This Waltz isn't a disaster. It did need someone to step in and persuade Polley to make it as a 40 minute long film festival entry. That didn't happen so I'd advise all but the most devoted lover of art house flicks to wait for the next dance.
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9/10
When you just need to get Leonard Cohen stuck in your head
wandereramor23 February 2013
This film shouldn't work nearly as well as it does. Take This Waltz centres around a two-suitors plot that was tired a century ago, takes place in a hipster-utopia version of Toronto, has multiple comedic actors who've worn out their welcome doing Serious Roles, and its characters are either selfish or dull. But Take This Waltz also has a kind of magic that can wash over the most jaded cinema viewer and make you forget that you've seen it all before.

Maybe it's Sarah Polley's direction, or maybe it's the brilliant performance of Michelle Williams that makes her character likable against all odds. Maybe the thematic statement about the perils of looking for adventure and the need for constant romance is something that we need affirmed more often against the tide of romcoms and gooey melodramas. Maybe it's just that I really want to live in hipster- utopia-Toronto. But this film stuck with me for days afterwards, its scenes playing over and over in my mind, blotting out all the rest of the disposable entertainment. There are so many indelible images here: a public shower scene which plays pranks on the male gaze, that goofy but somehow powerful 360-degree-rotation montage, and of course the final scene, a coda that grants its central character and us along with her a moment of unmediated joy. And it's that joy that the film understands as being something we maybe have to pursue no matter what its cost. Michelle Williams' abashed smile gives us a taste of that adventure, and like the rest of the movie, it's damn hard to resist.
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7/10
Tastes Like Chicken
ferguson-615 July 2012
Greetings again from the darkness. We have watched Sarah Polley grow up on screen. She began as a 6 year old child actress and evolved into an indie film favorite. Now, she is finding her true voice as a film director ... and what a unique voice it is. In Away from Her (2009), she told the heartbreaking story of a husband's struggle with losing his beloved wife to Alzheimer's Disease. Now we get the story of Margot, who just can't seem to find happiness or fulfillment within the stability of marriage.

Margot is played exceedingly well by Michelle Williams. I would say that without the casting of Ms. Williams, this film would probably not have worked. There is something about her that prevents us from turning on her character when she veers from her loyal, if a bit lacking in passion, husband Lou (played by Seth Rogen). Williams and Rogen have the little things that a marriage needs ... a language until itself and the comfort of consistency. What Margot misses is the magic. She thinks she finds that in her neighbor Daniel, a rickshaw driver played by Luke Kirby. Daniel is the kind of guy that every guy inherently knows not to trust, yet women somehow fall for. He is a subtle and slow seducer. The kind that make it seem like everything is innocent ... right up until it isn't.

Margot has that most annoying of spousal traits: she expects everyday to be Disneyland. The best scene in the movie occurs when Lou's sister (a terrific Sarah Silverman) confronts Margot and tells her that life has a gap and that you will go crazy trying to fill it. It's a wonderfully insightful line from writer/director Polley. Of course, we understand that this is Margot's nature and she learns that sometimes broken things can't be fixed.

Another great scene occurs in the women's locker room after water aerobics. There is a juxtaposition between generations of older women and younger ones. We see the differences not only in physical bodies, but in the wisdom that comes with age. More brilliance from the script. The one scene that I thought crossed the line was the "martini" scene. I found it tasteless, vulgar and far more extreme than what was called for at the time. But that's a small complaint for an otherwise stellar script.

As terrific as Ms. Williams and Ms. Silverman are, I found Seth Rogen to be miscast and quite unbelievable as a focused cookbook writing guy who has pretty simple, yet quietly deep thoughts about how a marriage should work. Again, this didn't ruin the film for me, but I did find him distracting and quite an odd choice.

It's filmmakers like Sarah Polley that keep the movie business evolving. Her viewpoint and thoughts are unique and inspirational, and should lead to a long career as a meaningful writer/director. Oh, and the use of Leonard Cohen's "Take this Waltz" song fit right in over the credits.
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8/10
Exploring the Gap
mrcafemuse2 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Take This Waltz Written and Directed by Sarah Polley Staring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman

Reviewed by: Mitchell Rhodes

Take This Waltz debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011, and I've been waiting to see it ever since. Finally, it's been released in Canada, and I saw it Friday, June 29 at the AMC Forum in Montreal.

In my opinion, Polley's breakthrough as an actor came in the Adam Egoyan film, The Sweet Hereafter (1997). Her directorial feature film debut, Away from Her (2006) received critical acclaim and many awards. I saw a screening of that film at the Vancouver International Film Festival with Polley inconspicuously standing at the back of theatre, presumably gauging the audience's reaction. She humbly accepted my congratulations at her effort and I've been a fan ever since.

Polley's sophomore directorial offering feels more like a first film because it plays as if it's deeply personal. She also brings Toronto to life with bright-saturated colours and beautiful street and beachfront settings.

The expressed theme of the film is exploring the gap—that potentially terrifying space between things, places, or more importantly commitment and relationships. This theme arises again and again throughout the film.

Whether it's between Geraldine's (Silverman) sobriety and drunkenness or Margot's (Williams) neurotic fear of changing planes between two connecting flights (requiring wheelchair assistance even though she's not disabled) or the anxious and confusing space that exists between the love of a husband, Lou (Rogen), and the love of a new potential romantic and erotic partner, Daniel (Kirby), we are always in the gap—never firmly on one side or the other.

Spoiler Alert #1

If I have one complaint about the film it's the shallow aspect of Lou, Margot's husband. Lou's devotion to chicken recipes (he's writing a cookbook) and his cutsy-wootsy routine both romantically and in the bedroom makes it all to easy to predict and then justify Margot's decision to leave him even though she remained sexually faithful up to that point.

Good writing/directing takes characters to the "end of their rope" and I'm not convinced that Polley takes Margot or Lou to such places. Perhaps it's Polley's real life divorce in 2008 that blocked her from doing so; letting this film play the way it felt for her rather than doing what best suited the characters in their circumstance. Polley vehemently denies any connection between this film and her real life and so we'll not stoop to speculative gossip here.

At a deeper philosophical level the film represents the pervasive human condition of union and separation expressed in the context of love—Oneness versus duality. Is love something you 'fall into,' if you are lucky, or does it take knowledge and effort? Is love simple, it's finding the right object (person) that's difficult? Or is love about faculty—an ability and capacity to love oneself and thus others as well?

As Margot is "falling in" love with Daniel, the object her love, a pivotal scene takes place on a Scrambler ride to the tune of Video Killed the Radio Star. The slow motion, the lights, the music, and the audience's point of view on the characters all create the impression of closing the gap. Then the ride abruptly ends. The music stops, the lights go up and in the faces of Margot and Daniel we see terror—a gap even bigger than before.

(Spoiler alert #2)

The film begins and ends with the same scene. It's with Daniel. Until this point, and without our knowing it, the entire film is a flash back. The audience has been in the gap with Margot along. And yet there is more. In the film's final scene we see Margot again on the Scrambler— this time she rides alone.

Is this scene is based in reality or is it Margot's fantasy or a daydream? Ultimately, that's not important. What's important is whether Margot has found the capacity to love herself and others. Or, is she back to where she began, where we began—in the gap? It's ambiguous and left for you to decide.
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8/10
Polley and Williams Take Us on Quite a Precarious Dance
EUyeshima14 July 2012
Sarah Polley proves her impressive directorial and screen writing debut, 2006's "Away from Her" starring a luminous, Oscar-nominated Julie Christie as an Alzheimer's patient, was no fluke with this incisive look at a most inchoate love triangle. With a title taken from Leonard Cohen's cultish song, this clear-eyed yet melancholic 2012 drama once again showcases Polley's prodigious acumen in capturing the complexity of adult relationships without casting blame or judgment on the parties involved. The focal point of the triangle is 28-year-old Margot, an aspiring writer from Toronto on an assignment in Nova Scotia to write the copy for a travel brochure on historic Louisbourg. There she meets Daniel, also from Toronto where he is a struggling artist and a rickshaw driver. An attraction is almost immediate but not consummated. When they fly home on the same plane, Margot discovers he lives just across the street from her, which complicates matters since she's been married for five years to Lou, a cookbook author specializing in chicken dishes. Their marriage is comfortable, and their interactions reflect a lived-in familiarity marked by cute practical jokes and quirky riffs of humor.

But what Margot sees in Daniel is something that's been missing in her life, a sexual spark that excites her, even though she dares not act upon it since she really does love Lou in spite of his foibles - including a certain apathy about their relationship that he thinks is perfectly normal. She could see spending the rest of her life with Lou, but she wonders if he is her soul-mate or whether it's worth the risk to find out if Daniel is really the one. Blinded by desires she had yet to tap in her marriage, Margot knows if she acts upon those feelings, there will come some point where she'll have to make a hard decision between Lou and Daniel. Michelle Williams captures Margot's inner conflict with palpable empathy as you see her character expose her thoughts in moments of quiet in which she is the harshest judge of her actions. It's a shining performance which compares favorably to her evocative Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn". There is a deliberate vagueness to the two men. As Daniel, Luke Kirby ("Mambo Italiano") manages to convey the lure of "the other man" without coming across as despicable even though it's clear he wants her from afar. At the same time, it's clear that Margot and Daniel have little in common, and they make you wonder how sustainable their relationship could be.

Seth Rogen does something surprising in this film – he acts. He still doesn't stray that far away from his shaggy-dog comic persona, but he realistically shows how Lou's contentment and impassivity bring Margot both lasting security and unresolvable fear and longing. Similarly, Sarah Silverman makes her few scenes count as Lou's plainspoken sister Geraldine, who is married with two kids and an alcoholic just out of rehab, especially when she tells Margot what she thinks of her ultimate decision. That Polley can coax such fine dramatic work from Rogen and Silverman is a credit to her growing confidence as a filmmaker. As a native Canadian, she also presents Toronto as a setting with its own unique identity (versus other directors who use it as a double for New York or Chicago), and her cinematographer Luc Montpellier brings a lushness to the images that adds to the intoxication Margot is feeling. There are still flaws – the ramshackle pace adds to an already lengthy 116-minute running time, and the climactic time-lapse montage feels out- of-place for a film that had tread so lightly before. Regardless, this film should play on a double bill with David Lean's "Brief Encounter" to show how mores have evolved about infidelity over seventy years. Whatever the outcome may be, the bottom line is that there are no easy answers.
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9/10
hauntingly real
christinensbtt3 July 2012
This movie was hauntingly real--subtle in its slow approach to the climax and it stays with you long after you have left the theater. All of the actors are wonderful and capturing the nuances of their characters. Sarah Polley does it again. The story, set in Toronto, captures the everyday life of Margot and Lou--and depicts their special relationship through the details of their special ways of communicating. It is not until the complexities of Margot's struggle between her love for Lou and her unyielding attraction to her neighbour, that you start to feel her personal struggle. The inevitable ending does not disappoint. Highly recommended.
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8/10
You May Make a Mistake if You Walk Out Half Way Through
jwbeller14 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie at the Avalon Theater in Washington DC, which shows many independent films. A couple sitting across the aisle left about half way thru the movie and I could understand why. The first half is very slow and I would have been with them, but my wife always has to see a movie to the end. During the first half I was thinking the movie would be, at best, a 3 out of 10.

Watching the movie to conclusion was worth all the effort. However, I was left with a certain sadness for Margot (Michelle Williams) who really didn't know what she wanted, but knew there was something missing in her life and her marriage to Lou (Seth Rogen). Unlike some other reviewers, I believe Seth did a very credible acting job.

Sarah Silverman has been given praise for her work here. I'm a fan of hers and she does do a good job. But the credit for her work must be shared with Sarah Polley who wrote her some of the best lines in the movie.

I didn't particularly like Daniel (Luke Kirby) who in my opinion was emotionless. As the neighbor who Margot develops a lust for, he has many smart lines and does only a credible job.

Margot and Lou have been married for five years and the bloom is definitely off the rose. Although they are playful with each to try to cover for what's missing, they do not work together to make the marriage last. In fact, Lou is very happy with the way things are. They definitely have a problem with the kind of communication necessary to identify their problems and possible solutions.

Margot needed to become involved with outside activities that interested her to make her life fuller. She had too much idle time to think about what she was possibly missing.

A survey years ago of people with second marriages showed that at least a third said they should have worked harder to make their first marriage work. Margot should develop the capability to bring more to their marriage.

There is a sex scene late in the movie that was way over the top and would have been better if it was reduced to a long passionate kiss.

This movie is for serious movie buffs. I would not recommend it to the casual movie goer.
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8/10
A study in emotion
Fludlerk11 September 2011
I watched this film at it's premiere last night and found it quite entertaining and insightful. This was a film about the path that Margot's (Michelle Williams) emotions take as she struggles with the question of fulfilling the parts of her marriage that are missing through infidelity. Michelle gives a very inspiring performance as her character progresses....completely letting the audience in on every facet of her internal struggle and the toll it takes on her. There are times when you empathize and root for her, and times when you shake your head and wonder why she can't see what the audience sees.

Seth Rogen is surprisingly effective in his role as the geeky, but loving husband. I found myself constantly rooting for him. He did a great job of making his character imperfect but likable, but most importantly, believable.

Sarah Silverman delivered nicely in her role, especially near the end of the film. If there was a weak link, it was Luke Kirby, who never seemed to show much emotion at all, in a role where there was such potential for it.

Sarah Polley's writing and directing was excellent, although the pacing was at times a bit erratic. She managed to really capture what life is really like at times, without going over the top. By celebrating the little joys in life, she garnered sympathy for the main characters and the situations that developed, without forcing it. She also showed Toronto off very nicely, which was a bonus.

In all, if you're into character driven films, this is a very good one. The best part of it all, though, is Michelle Williams performance.
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8/10
Refreshing indie film about the pursuit of love and happiness.
jaguiar31318 January 2013
One of my favorite things about this charming indie drama was that I really enjoyed was just how real the relationships in the film came across. Writer/director Sarah Polley creates a freshness and realness to this story of a happy young married couple Margo (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) whose happy life is challenged when Margo meets and falls for neighbor and artist, Daniel (Luke Kirby). Margo thought she had what she wanted but, the free spirited Luke makes here question whether she is really happy with Lou or just thinks she's happy. As Lou becomes focused on writing a cookbook, Margo begins to explore what she really wants... or is it. And that's the thing that I felt was so real about this charming little movie. Margo's answers are never clear as in life they sometimes aren't. Are were really happy or just convincing ourselves to settle for what we have? Is it human nature to always think there is something better for us out there and thus were never are truly content or happy? These are true life questions and questions we ask ourselves as we watch Margo pursue a course which could cost her everything. And, of course there is the age old question, of the grass always appearing greener. I really enjoyed how director Polley gave the film a very refreshing style and really made the characters seem like real people. They all have their little quirks and habits and they make decisions based on emotions and are sometimes selfish and not careful about hurting those around them. And, they don't always know what they really want. The performances are strong across the board with Michelle Williams giving another great characterization of the almost childlike Margo, whose very likable despite her selfish pursuits. Seth Rogen surprises as Lou a man who obviously loves Margo but, has his own goals and is a little too focused on such to notice his wife is troubled. Luke Kirby is good as the artist Daniel who, much like Margo, decides to selfishly pursue their attraction despite knowing she is married. Round out the cast as Lou's sarcastic alcoholic sister, Geraldine is a perfectly cast Sarah Silverman. All in all this is a refreshingly un-Hollywood indie that takes a look at real people with real emotions making real and sometimes selfish and stupid decisions. Something we are all guilty of and that's why we can identify with these people and how love or, what we think is love, can be such a confusing factor in our lives. And, most of all, is there such a thing as true happiness or is it an illusion we create ourselves?
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9/10
An enjoyable, thought inducing drama about love and marriage
alan-chan-158-45149121 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Followers of Michelle Williams' work will quickly realise that 'Take This Waltz' is a companion piece to 'Blue Valentine' but in a very different way. Where 'Blue Valentine' dealt with the very painful break-up of a marriage, 'Take This Waltz' deals with the pain of true love – longing, desire, guilt and separation. The constant in both films, however, is Williams' superb central performance, and I for one, haven't seen an actress perform a better role this year – naturalistic and intense, every gesture full of meaning. With the summer blockbuster season coming to an end to be replaced by the annual Autumn glut of Oscar worthy heavyweight drama, Michelle Williams has already staked her nomination for Best Actress.

Williams plays Margot, a young freelance writer, who on an assignment at the beginning of the film, meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), an artist and rickshaw driver, who lives across the street from her in Little Portugal, Toronto. The chemistry between the two characters is palpable from their first meeting and this leads Margot to examine the state of her marriage to Lou (Seth Rogen), her husband of five years and a budding cookery writer.

The title of the film; 'Take This Waltz', is a metaphor and this is made beautifully clear in a pivotal montage near the end of the film. The opening scene really gives the end away but it is not the end result that is important but the emotional journey which the lead protagonists go on in the ménage a trios that develops between Margot, Daniel and Lou. Luke Kirby gives off a strong West Coast, slacker cum 'Friends' vibe and in doing so is perfectly cast as the handsome, square jawed, young antagonist. Seth Rogen is a revelation and should seriously give up the inane comedic roles of his past, to concentrate on more dramatic fare such is the depth of his performance.

An independent actress of some note herself, the writer and director, Sarah Polley, has attempted to use this vibe to make a romantic comedy-drama that examines the complex realities of relationships, love and marriage. For the most part, she has succeeded because the film is a bittersweet portrayal of the nature of true love that manages to avoid the simple clichés of similar stories. It is also thought provoking and will have you discussing it earnestly in the bar afterwards.

The fact that you will do so highlights what I initially considered to be two big problems in the film. The first is the relationship between Margot and Lou. Both have a wonderful sense of humour and a great rapport with one another, but there is something missing – a carnal intimacy that is not satisfactorily explained in the script and which, therefore, undermines the credibility of the relationship between the two leads. This can lead to confusion as to where the problem might lie, but after further reflection, it is clear that Lou is to blame for the (physical) dissatisfaction that Margot feels in her marriage, but the complete lack of sexual intimacy from Lou is never explained. This is perplexing and is obviously the hook which attracts Margot to Daniel and as one scene clearly demonstrates; the monologue in which Daniel reveals his true feelings to Margot, and which incidentally will have you blushing like a teenager after your first kiss, the lack of a physical relationship with her husband is counterpointed by the promise of the red bloodedness of Daniel. At first, I was disappointed that such a simple narrative structure was used to engineer the attraction between Margot and Daniel, but I did not see the additional layer of meaning that the end of the film would reveal in all its delicious, ironic glory.

The second 'problem' I had with the film lay with its dénouement. To say more would be to give away a big spoiler so all I will say is that the opposite decision would have been more challenging to explore in my opinion, but again, the script justifies this beautifully with a fierce criticism from Margot's sister-in-law, Geraldine (Sarah Silverman), which puts in doubt the judiciousness of Margot's actions. A sagacious statement earlier in the film; 'Even new things turn old', comes full circle at the end and it is clear that Margot has tragically fallen between two stools. Overall, 'Take This Waltz' is an emotionally charged, thought inducing and enjoyable dramedy that on further reflection reveals deeper and deeper layers of meaning, which the script skilfully brings to a satisfying if somewhat imperfect end. The film is a brilliant antidote to some of the dull blockbusters of the summer. Go and see it!
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1/10
Mopey, Misguided, and Pointless
Danusha_Goska22 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler alert! This review will reveal the end of "Take This Waltz."

"Take This Waltz" tells the story of Margot, a chronically depressed woman who is in a nice, stable marriage to Lou, a nice, stable guy. Margot meets, by chance, Daniel, a man who is slimmer, poorer, more artistic, and more conventionally handsome than her nice, stable husband. Don promises Margot hot experiences in bed. Margot leaves Lou for Dan.

In a montage sequence, Margot is shown having hot encounters with Dan, including three ways. Then Margot is shown being, again, chronically depressed. Margot implies that she regrets leaving Lou.

And that's it. That's the whole movie. It's not funny; it's not smart; it's not wonderful to look at. The direction, sets, costumes, dialogue, are all very not-special. The one powerful thing in the film is Michelle Williams' performance as Margot. Williams is a one woman storm front. Williams flutters and pouts and tears up and mopes with great gusto. Her performance totally overpowers anything else in the film, and it just starts feeling odd that someone is acting so hard in response to such a flimsy script in a film that isn't going anywhere.

Lou and Margot aren't believable as a stable, settled couple. Michelle Williams is too young and too attractive. You think – he married her for her looks; she married him because she was looking for a rock. Their marriage is awkward. They aren't shown supporting or enjoying each other. They are shown not connecting and letting each other down. You don't get the sense that Margot is sacrificing one good thing – intimacy and security – for another good thing – dangerous but thrilling encounters with the unknown. You get the sense that someone without much life experience or depth wrote this script very quickly and without input or rewrites.

The film throws in attempts to be artistic. Margot meets Dan at an open air museum where historical re-enactors whip a man accused of adultery. Margot is lectured by naked older women in a public shower: even new things get old. Lou is a cookbook author who writes only about chicken. The joke is, of course, that even exotic meats like snake are said to "taste like chicken." Exotic Dan will eventually bore Margot just as domestic Lou did. These attempts to be artistic just make the film desperate and pretentious, not deep.

The problem with the film is the problem with Margot. She is depressed; that is the central fact of her life. A dramatically arresting film about Margot would address her depression. She'd do what depressed people do – go to a shrink, try various medications, contemplate suicide, talk it out with friends. The film tries to be about the entropy of nice, stable relationships versus the appeal of the hot Bohemian stranger who promises an erotic candy shop of delights. That very interesting dilemma is not honored by the film. You don't look at Margot and think, "Appreciate what you have," or even, "Go for it!" You look at Margot and think "Prozac. Please. Or talk therapy or something. Or else this film is going to kill me with boredom."
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9/10
It is good see acting talent can still gravitate towards quality; Sarah Polley is most certainly quality
chaz-2822 July 2012
What is new and exotic today will eventually, albeit incrementally, morph into routine. Superficially, this applies to the latest products such as vehicles and electronics, but dig a little deeper, and it concerns people. Every now and then, you will meet a person you just connect with. Your wits match, you laugh at the same things, they are outrageously attractive, and you abhor the thought of saying goodbye at the end of the day and going your separate ways. What compounds this situation and serves as the basis for an outstanding film is, perhaps one of the two people who are magnetically drawn together is already married.

Margot (Michelle Williams) is one of those freelance writers who frequently says she wants to be a writer, but she has not started yet. In the meantime, she travels to Nova Scotia to write an update to the official pamphlet for a colonial era village. While there, she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) who has coincidentally journeyed to the island to sketch and paint. Why the coincidence? They happen to live across the street from one another back in Ontario. Immediately straining credibility limits, Take This Waltz begins on thin ice but very quickly settles down into an entirely engrossing and mesmerizing feature.

Margot and Daniel verbally spar with one another but keep finding ways to bump into one another around town. All of this would be much easier on everyone's guilty feelings if Michelle's husband, Lou (Seth Rogan), was never around or ignored his wife, or was just unpleasant in some overt way. However, Lou is a genuinely nice guy who loves his wife and their situation together. Michelle and Lou have been married for five years, live in a quaint house, and play funny games when the alarm goes off in the morning about who loves the other one more. Lou cooks most of the day because he writing a cookbook all about chicken; this sounds contrived but it works because the audience has never seen it before. Lou's sister, Geraldine (Sarah Silverman), also pops on screen every now and again as Michelle's friend and to carry a small sub-plot as a recovering alcoholic.

Sarah Polley's previous film, the wonderful Away From Her (2006), was about a very hard subject, the onset of Alzheimer's disease in one partner and their institutionalization. At first, the audience assumes Take This Waltz is a break from such weighty subjects and will be a much lighter affair, maybe even a romantic comedy. Oh, but don't be fooled. This film is just as dramatic and heavy. Michelle Williams spends an unusual amount of time in tears. She truly loves her husband and is happy with their lot in life. She cannot conceive of deliberately hurting him. But Daniel just may be her soul mate, if there is such a thing. Their conversations together are profound and meaningful. Every member of the audience will walk out of the theater talking about the scene between Margot and Daniel while they are having martinis. Sarah Polley wrote a very strong screenplay and the dialogue creates scenes of immense magnitude and feeling even though there are just two people chatting over a small table.

This is also a strong cast for what is obviously a very low budget independent film. It is good to know talent still gravitates towards quality. Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, and Sarah Silverman are some very noticeable names when they appear on a movie poster and stand out even more when they are attached to such a small film effort. As for Williams, this was a much better showcase for her talent than last year's My Week with Marilyn, even though she was nominated for an Academy Award for that. In fact, her performance here blows that one out of the water.

Do yourself a favor and seek out this film. It will most likely be hard to find, but it contains some of the strongest acting, creative writing, and enjoyable filmmaking of the year so far. If not for the clunky meeting in the beginning and an overly long and choppy coda at the end, Take This Waltz was almost perfect. Bravo Sarah Polley.
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8/10
Take This Waltz
cultfilmfan29 September 2012
On my first viewing of Take This Waltz, after the film was over, I said in confidence and self assuredness to the people I went to see the film with, that I did not like it. However a strange thing happened. I saw the film and was unable to write my review of it until now and in that delay of time I started thinking of the film more and more and it seemed to resonate and stay with me and there were certain scenes and just whole issues, or ideals that were brought up during the film that I gave second thought to and reconsidered. Having written my review of Take This Waltz, immediately after watching it, I would have probably have given it a rating of 6 out of 10, but as I have thought and pondered over the characters and meaning of the film and just how it makes more sense to me now and in a sense has also grown on me, I now give the film my definitive rating of 8 out of 10. On first viewing there were some things I really liked about the film such as the interesting yet hauntingly beautiful colour contrast to the homes, interiors of the homes and even what the characters wore. It gave the film a distinct look and I admired it for that. I also appreciated that we could have a serious film about people in their 20's with no use whatsoever of cell phones, the internet, or any type of social media devices. It just felt more real having not used those things and avoided being too commercial as well. The one thing that I think really got me about the first viewing of the film was how I really did not like the main character Margot, played by Michelle Williams. I found it very irritating and awkward to the point of being irritating. She didn't seem to know how to act, or behave in certain situations and when she did speak, or try to live her dreams of fantasies it all just felt and looked terribly awkward and clumsy. Take for example her baby talk with her husband, Lou. It seemed so childish and really grated on my nerves. Also the fact that she was so indecisive about everything as well. Also on first viewing I felt that perhaps not all of the characters were as developed as they could have been and overall at the end of the film I think I got what director/writer Sarah Polley was trying to say, but at that point I was not interested anymore and I did not care either. Having thought about the film for a few days I came to realize that Michelle Williams' character Margot, is not as annoying, or irritating as she once seemed and even if she is a little bit, I could now understand why. I think the point was to show a character such as Margot, who is really indecisive about life and the choices that she makes and also shows how insecure and unhappy she is. I think Margot, was really stuck in a situation that became routine and comfortable for her, but she is a restless character always wondering if there is something new and better for her elsewhere. I think Margot's awkwardness as well as nervousness shows because of how insecure and uncomfortable with life and making decisions is hard for her. She wants to do what is right, but not destroy everything she has at the same time. It also lead me to think that I have known women like Margot, and they behaved in a similar such manner as she does in the film and for the exact same reasons that I mentioned above. It is not necessarily a character flaw, but perhaps just a weakness and a stumbling block that one needs to work on. The other characters later on seemed more well developed than on first glance and the film certainly does give a lot of food for thought. I literally spent days afterwards thinking about this film and some of the powerful and heartbreaking images in it. The film is a fairly depressing watch in a lot of ways, but I could respect that about the film because any film dealing with such subject matter, should be serious and take their character's feelings and emotions to heart and all that is here. The film does still have some flaws with it's pacing and there are times where it gets swept up in it's melancholy and it can tend to drag a little bit, but there is still enough rewarding things on display here to be worth a watch, even if you have to think about the film a couple days after you watch it, or even have repeat viewings. Brave viewers should give the film a chance and think about what it says about loneliness, relationships and the myths we sometimes promise ourselves, but ultimately lie to each other and ourselves about. An intelligent and deeply thought out film worthy of an 8 out of 10 rating and not just a 6.
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6/10
A Tragedy of Character
Chris_Pandolfi29 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Take This Waltz" is essentially the story of a woman who's always looking for something new to fill the perpetual void in her life. This means that, no matter how the movie ends, it will be tragic – or, to be as fair as possible, interpreted by many as tragic. It probably is, although my reading of it is somewhat different. It's more a tragedy of character than of circumstance; here's a woman who truly does believe that something is missing, despite the fact that she has been married for five years to the same man. One could make the argument that, personality wise, they have too little common ground to stand on. On the same token, one could also make the argument that, despite being somewhat dull and incommunicative, he's still an all-around decent guy who did nothing to drive her away. This is really more about her than it is about him.

Her name is Margot (Michelle Williams), a young freelance writer who lives in a suburb of Toronto with her husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), who's writing a cookbook devoted entirely to chicken recipes and spends much of his time sautéing drumsticks in the kitchen. While on vacation, she met an artist named Daniel (Luke Kirby) and instantly made a connection with him on the plane ride back. Upon their return, Margot is both pleased and horrified to learn that he lives directly across the street from her. She also learns that he doesn't share his art with the world and instead makes a living as a rickshaw driver. I admittedly know little about the money one can earn from pulling rickshaws, in the U.S. or in Canada, although it seems to me that that alone would be an inadequate source of income, especially when you're renting an entire house.

Over the next several weeks, Margot and Daniel engage in an emotional affair, one that always teeters on the brink of becoming physical. Meanwhile, we see Margot trying and sometimes succeeding at engaging Lou. Granted, their level of engagement is basically on par with a couple who has just begun dating; they play around, roughhouse, and tease each other in very teenage ways, like describing the ways in which their love for one another amounts to over the top acts of physical harm. (Lou: "I love you so much, I want to put your spleen through a meat grinder." Margot: "I love you so much, I want to inject your face with a curious combination of swine flu and Ebola.") When dining out on their anniversary, however, Lou finds that he cannot keep a conversation going because he has nothing to say. This doesn't bother him, seeing as he and Margot are married and already know everything about each other.

Part of the problem with this film is that writer/director Sarah Polley never quite has a fix on the Margot character, and therefore can't inspire us to invest in her at anything beyond an arm's length. We see that that she's torn between two men, that she thinks she knows what she wants, and that when she finally gets what she wants, she's doomed to once again feel restless and unfulfilled. What isn't really explored is the reasoning behind this mindset. The best we get is an incredibly vague and rather pretentious airplane speech about her fear of being afraid, about not wanting to be stuck between two destination points. The Daniel character, seemingly the perfect man, listens to her every word and will eventually make love to her verbally in a café. By that, I mean he will get her teary-eyed and giggly by delivering a speech that sounds like a cross between a passage from a romance novel and a scene from a porn movie.

While lacking at a narrative level, the film is superbly cast. Williams, that most understated of actresses, is at her usual best. Rogen is a very pleasant surprise in what is surely the most mature role of his career, surpassing "Funny People" in terms of dramatic poise. But the real standout is Sarah Silverman, who is woefully underutilized as Margot's alcoholic sister-in-law, Geraldine. Much has been made of the fact that one scene features her completely nude, and indeed, she does go commando in a gym shower along with a group of women with very real body types. Surely this must have been daring, but her dramatic range was what really impressed me; despite the fact that her character is always a heartbeat away from a relapse, she manages to find just the right balance between humor and seriousness.

Polley's handling of the material isn't quite successful, which is disappointing given how interesting certain aspects of the premise are. Infidelity, for example, is examined from a more feminine perspective, which is to say that it's seen less as a simplistic physical transgression and more as a complex emotional betrayal. This is innately more engaging because it requires the audience to really think about the situation, the characters, and the outcome. This isn't to say that there shouldn't at some point be an explanation of sorts, a reason for it having to be this way. The issue with "Take This Waltz" is that, so far as I can tell, no such explanation is given. We're left to wonder why it is a woman can feel so empty even if she has everything she could possibly want. This is dangerous territory. The more we wonder, the less inclined we are to sympathize.

-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
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9/10
A thoughtful and engaging dramedy about love's complexities
jacquelyn-julie8 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I loved this film, was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end and recommend it without hesitation. The acting and direction are superb, but it is editing that projects the mounting sexual tension to the viewer. All of the characters are good people who treat each other with love and respect, which is so refreshing (and, dare I say, Canadian) for a drama.

In most adulterous wife movies, the female protagonist is swept away in a moment of passion with a man better looking, more mysterious or differently aged than her husband, and the plot's comprised of the unfolding aftermath. In 'Take This Waltz', neurotic writer Margot (Williams) deftly portrays the guilt and indecision associated with her deepening feelings for her rickshaw running, frustrated artist neighbor, Daniel (Kirby) coupled with her unwillingness to hurt her chicken cookbook penning husband of five years, Lou (Rogen) who is the kindest, gentlest man. Margot and Daniel meet in a symbolically heavy scene, during which she sheepishly flagellates an adulterer at a medieval amusement village she's reviewing, and he heckles her to put her back into it.

Upon learning they live across the street, Margot and Daniel stalk each other and enjoy a number of stolen moments, but they never so much as hug. These intimate scenes all end with Margot remembering herself, bolting and returning home to engage in playfully vicious banter and childish antics with Lou. I believe their relationship dynamic is unique in Western cinema, and although it seems foreign to me, it feels very real. Lou's sexual rejection of Margot and ignorance of their underlying marital unrest compel her too-close friendship with Daniel.

Lou's alcoholic sister, Geraldine (a typecast but brilliant Silverman) is the truth speaker in this world. Suspecting an impending affair, she warns that even the new stuff gets old, just like the old stuff did. Geraldine also explicates a theme oft explored by Margot, which is the emptiness inherent to life. Geraldine fills it with drinking or focusing on sobriety, and Margot fills it with sudden bouts of sadness, criticism of Lou's immature expressions of love and, ultimately, Daniel.

Although Margot won't cheat and Daniel won't make the first move, they push the envelope in the most delicious fashion, like when he reaches for her ankle in the pool. Over redundant martinis, she asks him to describe what he would do to her, and the hot-as-hell dirty talk is also beautiful in his sweet openness and mention that he won't kiss the lips of a married woman, not even in fantasy.

The protracted, slice-of-life pacing underscores Margot's anxiety. When Daniel cannot bear being in between with her anymore, he moves away. Margot tells Lou everything during a sensitive scene in which we only see his reactions, capped off by husband encouraging wife to go and pursue happiness with their former neighbor.

The last quarter of the film labors to mirror the two relationships, beginning with a sexually exploratory montage which leads to daily routines and ends with Margot and Daniel eating dinner in front of the nightly news, shots identical to the first quarter with Lou. Margot questions her choice to leave Lou but finally learns that she can fill the emptiness herself, simply by choosing happiness. I think Margot did make the right decision, because while Lou wouldn't even ask her how she was doing upon request over their anniversary dinner, Daniel is endlessly curious about her emotional state, striving to understand and appreciate her mind and body from their meeting to moving in together.

'Take This Waltz' is a thought provoking yet humorous film about love, in all its complex manifestations. Williams cathartically moves from self doubt to self acceptance, her facial expressions evolving from different levels of discomfort to laughing with abandon alone on a carnival ride--an apt metaphor for life.
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3/10
Polley should stick to putting the kettle on...
natashabowiepinky1 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Do you know what I hate? Films about unrealistic men, the sort who are too good to be true. Women always want to have affairs with them, and us dudes who are less than perfect just cannot compete. I am of course referring to the earthy type of guy, you know... he's an 'artist', lives in a huge open studio, isn't bothered by material possessions, drives a rickshaw for a living, and he can see into your SOUL. Much better than your current hubby, who cooks chicken for a living, stinks to high heaven and doesn't appreciate when you try and seduce him in the kitchen. This new guy goes on SWIMS with you late at night, he tells you in graphic detail how he'd make LOVE to you, he's understanding, thoughtful... oh, and it helps he has a hot body too. What are you doing girl?! TIME TO DITCH THE ZERO AND GET WITH THE HERO!!

Sadly, the heroine of this piece is an emotional wreck, and doesn't know what she wants or how to get it. Played by Michelle Williams, it's tempting to suggest she needs a stay in a sanitarium rather than fannying about town in carefully constructed montages. And what is it about this looney exactly, than attracts all these Adonises? I have no idea... character development here is thinner on the ground than my dad's receding hairline. I supposed we're meant to be 'charmed' by this grown adult's juvenile antics without the need for an explanation. Well, I wasn't. I was bored beyond measure. When the only relatable person in the movie is an alcoholic, you know something's gone wrong somewhere.

In reference to the title, no thank you. I've suddenly decided I'm more of a Tango fan instead. Cherry is my favourite... *slurp* 3/10
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1/10
Take this film...not
BrianLlywd10 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Last year we finished TIFF with "Last Night" a poorly done, anti-romance about betrayal and infidelity. This year we started with "Take This Waltz", apparently Sarah Polley's tribute to last year's "Last Night". Both are insults to philandery. Sarah Polley has developed a bit of reputation for being an upstart and edgy; this picture, think upchuck and edging on ridiculous. A boring husband (Seth Rogan), an innocent child-like wife and an irresistible rickshaw driver, cum cad & stalker who can afford an apartment and regular trips to Cape Breton (at Air Canada rates only affordable by government bureaucrats). Please. Sarah Silverman offered promise on the big screen but sadly, her characterization of a recovering alcoholic was so shallow that, at the end, she couldn't even play a drunk. But it's not her fault. There are two reasons why this film fails so badly. One is story; there is almost none. The second is direction; there's no evidence of the cast being driven to play their roles well. I have to think that Polley is the beneficiary of a desire by the Canadian film industry to build a star system in behind the camera. I doubt that this film would have been financed, made and screened at TIFF without a little insider trading of sorts. WARNING - there are several explicit sex scenes near the end that appear out of nowhere and are no better acted or more interesting than the rest of the picture.
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8/10
'New things get old.'
gradyharp7 July 2012
Sarah Polley wrote, directed and produced this little Canadian Indie TAKE THIS WALTZ and it seems t be a very personal project. Polley definitely has some insights into contemporary relationships, family, commitment, and values and she manages to transmit those ideas with success in this rather strange but in the end satisfying film. The cast is small and tight an dwell interrelated (except for a rather inappropriate shower scene at the ladies swimming pool when the shower is filled with naked unattractive older obese women) and the three primary actors who form this fragile love triangle are exceptional as are the other two main characters whose purpose seems to be an examination of alcoholism and its effects on a family.

We meet Margot (Michelle Williams) nervously coping with her fear of airports at the end of a writing assignment for a travel company. Her eyes engage a handsome young artist Daniel (Luke Kirby) and as fate would have it they are assigned adjoining seats on the airplane home. After an uncomfortably awkward conversation we can see that there is a mutual attraction, and on arriving home they share a taxi and discover that they live across the street form each other. Sensing her attraction and being the faithful wife that she is, Margot informs Daniel that she is married and they part ways. Margot's husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is a stay at home guy who loves cooking and is writing a book on various chicken recipes. Though Margot and Lou repeatedly tell each other how much they love each other, their marriage of five years seems more of a silly childish game than a mature marriage relationship. There is a moment when their tiresome silly word games is interrupted by a possible physical liaison but the idea of sharing love and the concept of a child is touched upon and we never find out why that is or who is trying to have or not have a family.

It becomes more obvious that Margot wants to be more exposed to Daniels and they play-act in strange situations, never consummating what obviously is a mutual attraction: Margot is fanatically faithful to Lou whom she repeated says she loves. The closest they come to intimacy is Daniel's responding to Margot's question 'What do you want to do to me?' - and the monologue seems to reveal hidden needs in Margot. Daniel's sister Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) is a recovering alcoholic and her child with her husband James (Graham Abbey) is beloved by Margot. The two confide in each other and words such as ¨Life has a gap in it, it just does. You don't go crazy trying to fill it¨ rather summarize the tow character's inquires. Eventually Margot decides she must explore the newly awakened feelings she has for Daniel and the remainder of the film is how that resolves: the ending is pretty much left up to the viewer.

Michelle Williams continues to grow as an actress, able to say more with her eyes and her body language than she is with the script of lines. She is truly remarkable. But she is very well supported by both Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen in roles that are not easy to make credible. The cinematography by Luc Montpellier adds a sense of surreal romance to the film and the musical score by Jonathan Goldsmith incorporates pop tunes such as 'Video killed the radio star' have superb secondary meanings. Parts of the film are flimsy and irritating and unresolved, but Sarah Polley proves that she is rich with ideas that makes us look at ourselves and those we love in a different light.

Grady Harp
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1/10
fakey insight, relentless quirk, total failure
Malise4 February 2012
Ways to describe this movie: pretentious, tiresome, boring, annoying, a waste of michelle williams, sarah silverman and seth rogan's time and talent, ridiculous, implausible, irritating, hipsterific, and off-the- scale on the insincere-o-meter.

I am completely disgusted with the phoney, overwrought dialogue, the bizarre case of arrested development displayed by the main character (a married woman of 28 acting and dressing like a 13-year-old with her first boyfriend), and the endless stream of quirky... crap.

Sarah Polley's last writing/directing project was good, and these actors are great, so why is this such a disaster? I definitely won't be as excited about seeing her next one...
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3/10
False, false, false
anniewest013 September 2011
As a fan of Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen (who I think could one day be a great serious actor) I really really wanted to like this film, which is why I fought to get a ticket at TIFF. Sadly the movie is flat, ugly to look at, and there are very few moments which feel real. To be frank, it all felt like a precious acting exercise. Luke Kirby's character, a sexy rickshaw driver (!?!), felt as false and fake as anything Michael Bay would come up with. And the writing was awful, full of groan-worthy lines and moments which strive to be poetic but come up way short. I think Sarah Polley could be a good director one day but maybe she needs the crutch of an Alice Munro story to help her get over her own plot weaknesses...because this movie just doesn't work on almost any level. I will say that I liked (didn't love) Michelle Williams, and even though this is one of her less exciting performances she remains one of the most watchable, subtle, and cool actresses of her generation. What Sarah Polley could have been if she had the guts to stretch herself out of her "just-stare-at-the-camera-and-blink-meaningfully" performance-rut she's been in over the last decade. Bonus star for Sarah Silverman. Gotta love her. Hope to see her star in something one day.
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1/10
I'd rather take pills - dull, sickly and cynical!
flickernatic28 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There is a scene in this film where one of the lead characters is sitting on the porch of the family home. You notice that a pillar separates their house from the one next door and that it has been painted one side white (their side) and the other maroon (the neighbours' side). You think:'Why didn't they get together and agree on one colour. Would have looked much better.'

These are the kinds of thoughts that pass through one's mind when enduring this intensely dull and poorly-crafted movie. Margot has been married to Lou for five years and is bored. She is propositioned by artist Daniel. After an interminable wait they get together for some arty multi-person bonking. Fin.

Even this thin and at times implausible plot could have been made into a watchable drama, but a clunky script and leaden acting prevents anything catching fire. Margot is about to leave after a first visit to Daniel's apartment (he lives conveniently just across the street)- She: 'I'll see you again.' He: 'It's inevitable.' Not even Burton and Taylor could have made much of those kinds of lines, and Brief Encounter it ain't.

Margot and her lover, Daniel, come over as the sort of people you wouldn't want living next door. The only likable character is Margot's husband, Lou, who is portrayed as a bit of a bozo, cheerfully cooking his chicken dishes as his marriage disintegrates. But at least he is sociable, generous and productive whereas Margot barely works, complains about his cooking without cooking anything herself, and generally acts like an adolescent with a minor mental illness. Even during her developing affair she cuddles up to hubby in coldly cynical fashion. Lou doesn't stand a chance.

Meanwhile, Margot's lover is a most charmless individual who thinks that whispering sweet nothings equates with uttering the most graphic dirty talk. He shows little genuine emotion for Margot, let alone 'love', instead displaying an arrogant, self-centered, almost sociopathic demeanour. He doesn't even cook!

Add in something of an obsession with urinating on screen - in the pool, at her house, at his house - a soundtrack that culminates with a dirge from Leonard Cohen, and. . . well, we came close to walking out.

Take this waltz? No thanks!

(Viewed at Screen 3, The Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, 27 August 2012)
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4/10
Some interest, but too long with too many problems
Rheli8 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
After screening this recently, the couple seated behind us ventured to admit their complete bafflement as to the meaning of the film and actually asked me to explain it. This, plus the film's clear opacity, makes me wonder if there aren't many others who would also benefit from an explanation.

Ostensibly a relationship film, the topic of Sarah Polley's writing and directorial effort is actually rather different. At the outset we are with the Michelle Williams character as she meets the Luke Kirby character in a series of kooky circumstances and conversations. Credit is deserved for the imagination shown in dreaming up these sequences, but the dialog often rings false. As just one example, do men that you know, especially Canadian men, call a woman they've just met "asshole" in a friendly way?

Eventually we discover that despite her flirtations, the Michelle Williams character is married to Seth Rogen's character, a cookery writer. The Williams character herself is an aspiring writer, but never once does she write. As the husband works from home, they see far too much of one another, having nothing to say avoid conversation and are reduced to baby talk and adolescent taunts and pranks as a means of relating. Probably the idea here is to make the audience feel the relationship ennui, but unfortunately it goes on far too long; the temptation to walk out on the film was strong.

Some comic relief, but not nearly enough, is provided from time to time, by a refreshing Sarah Silverman, playing an alcoholic. There is also a rather amusing sequence set at a swimming pool exercise led by an over-the-top gay instructor. Following that comes a shower scene including full frontal nudity for Williams, Silverman and several obese women. These scenes have no purpose, unless someone lacked sufficient confidence in the film and hoped to use them to bring in more male audience members.

Following are more desultory scenes as the Williams and Kirby character grow ever closer. These are shot in a bohemian quarter of Toronto which is fun to see, especially if one knows the area. Eventually of course there is a climactic point at which Williams must decide which relationship she wants. Along the way here are scenes where the Rogen and Kirby characters have uneasy meetings. In a bold move the film does not show the scene in which the Williams character reveals her true feelings to her husband. Because we have all seen that scene too many times before it was probably the right move, but in this there was probably strategy relating to the true meaning of the film too.

Now we see Williams and Kirby working out their new life. Instead of being told conventionally, instead we're given a montage of very short shots. We see that whereas the previous relationship was about the baby talk and adolescent behavior, this one is all about sex, until, of course, as escalating sexual situations must, it ends and the couple is left with a boring existence leavened only by a couch and a television. At this point the Williams character encounters reminders of her ex-husband, via random event comes back into contact and even appears ready to return to him.

It's at this point that an off-the-wagon Silverman character tells the truth of the film. She is an alcoholic, yes, looking for answers to life's pain in a bottle. But is the Williams character any different? Instead of doing something with her life, whether writing or anything else, she looks not in a bottle but into relationships with men, hoping to find there some answer which is never going to come. In the meantime she leaves behind her a string of broken hearts belonging to well-meaning, but somewhat naive guys who have failed to recognize her psychological dynamic.

There are some very good performances here, especially from Williams, but really all of the cast do excellent work. It's particularly amazing that Williams can segue from Marilyn Monroe to this character and make both so believable, though in a way, this character may share something with Monroe's many broken relationships.

There are incongruities as well though. It's not clear how the underemployed Williams and Kirby characters manage to support themselves financially. It's also unclear why the handsome and smart Kirby does not find an unattached woman other than Williams, even at the very party that occurs midway through. It's also puzzling that the Kirby character seems at first so smart and intuitive about who the Williams character is, but nevertheless fails to fully understand her. Either this character does have that much EQ or he doesn't; real life won't allow both ways.

As a film idea, this is not a bad one. But it could have been told much more economically. By no means should such a simple idea require 116 minutes. Many scenes should have been cut and those which remained needed more punch, more payoff. In the early going the dialog should have been more believable as well. This is a slice-of-movie in which "you are there"; unfortunately we end up being there far too long.
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3/10
Embarrassing and pretentious
rafael10511 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Don't get me wrong, I like a 'chick movie', and I really wanted to like this one, since I am a big Michelle Williams fan. Having said that, this is a particularly bad specimen of bad female directing. The characters are all clichés. The camera work is painfully trite. The dialogs are stilted (especially the 'dirty talk' scene in the café, which is supposed to be sexy and is just embarrassing). The climactic scene, with the camera rotating around the bed while time passes, is one of the most pretentious pieces of movie-making since Oliver Stone thought he could be Francis Ford Coppola. This is like a self-help book laced with pseudo-feminist attitude and blown up to feature length. Proof that you really can be too cool for school and still fail to do anything worth bothering about. Voted most likely to be forgotten in ten years.
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10/10
A Feast of Heart and Intelligence...With a Side of Fear.
Auntiemaim2 February 2013
This film is an absolute joy. A quirky and brilliantly wrought tale of the heart, its many nuances flesh out the depth and feeling to the extent that you feel like you're part of it all.

The acting is superb-Michelle Williams absolutely blew me away.

There are layers of symbolism in the presentation of the story to sink your teeth into, and the daring, artful cinematography often took my breath away.

Color, sound, and light are used like paintbrushes...this film is a finely tuned beauty. Thoughtful and precise...we follow the twists and turns of Margot's heart with bated breath and an understanding sigh.

Artful storytelling at its finest.
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