I really wanted to like Take This Waltz. Judging by the trailer I saw months ago, the film had everything going for it; a great cast, beautiful cinematography, and an intriguing story about love (or the lack thereof). But Sarah Polley’s film simply did not live up to its potential. Everything I mentioned above makes for a great film, but none of it becomes fully realized, and because of this, we’re left with a story we don’t care about.
Michelle Williams plays Margot who at the beginning of the film meets a stranger on a plane and quickly becomes chummy with him. The stranger is Daniel (Luke Kirby), a character who should be more charming or interesting or sexy, because it is all too obvious that he is about to introduce some major conflict into Margot’s marriage. However, he is none of things (later we found out he paints, too. Clever) and Lou, Margot’s husband is all of them. Lou is played by Seth Rogen, who abandons his typical role of the crude dork, and takes on a much more mature, loveable, yet still very funny role in this film. In fact, I would venture to say that Rogen is the best aspect of Take This Waltz.
Michelle Williams, whose career and abilities I’ve really grown to respect, greatly disappoints here. While she is clearly supposed to be reflecting on her life and her idea of love, all she does is cry a lot and sneak behind Lou’s back to spend time with Daniel. She looks for signs that staying with Lou is the right choice, which it undoubtedly is, but then she always goes the other direction. This is my biggest problem with the film. Why is she conflicted? There doesn’t seem any reason to be bored or unsatisfied with Lou (in fact, they seem to really enjoy one another and often make the other laugh hysterically), yet she desires Daniel, the most uninteresting character in the whole damn film.
Sarah Silverman is the next best thing in Waltz. Her character, Geraldine, is Lou’s sister, Margot’s best friend, and a recovering alcoholic. She is another example of a comic actor taking on a serious role and truly impressing. In the film she becomes the voice of the audience. In a moment of drunken desperation, she calls Margot out on her stupidity for leaving Lou (what we are all thinking) and the moment is quite gratifying. Margot knew before that she had made a terrible mistake, but hearing it from a true friend punches her in the face with it. And there’s nothing she can do now.
As it turns out, new things do get old. Margot is unhappier than ever. Her relationship with Daniel was immature, and after their sex life has taken every turn, they realize nothing else is there. Perhaps Polley, the writer/director, was suggesting that in life we make poor decisions and must live with those consequences. That is obviously an unarguable statement, however, there was so much more that could have been explored in this film that I can’t help but believe it is Sarah Polley’s poor decision of limiting the development of her characters, relationships and story and it is we, the audience, who have to suffer the consequences.