Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Take This Waltz

Does realism make for a great movie?  That’s a question put to the test in Take This Waltz.  On some level you watch a movie for the escapism, for the sensationalism, for the unnatural acts that you are sure to never see while walking the lines of social norms.  We watch movies to see Emma Watson and Dan Radcliffe wield magic wands, to see businessman Richard Gere woo prostitute Julia Roberts, and to see Bruce Willis drill a hole in a doomsday asteroid to save humanity (okay, maybe not the latter).  But the point is, if you really wanted to see a true to life narrative unfold, all you would need do is open your eyes and look around you.  And while Take This Waltz is not the portrait of realism, it does take this kind of approach which results in a story that is at times emotionally cutting, but ultimately slow and bland. 

The story focuses on Michelle Williams’ Margot - a woman married to Seth Rogan’s Lou, who meets Daniel (played by Luke Kirby).  Their attraction is immediate and it tests their resolve as the two try to come to grips with their feelings and navigate the complications of their entanglement. 

Writer/director Sarah Polley takes an understated approach to telling this story and on one level delivers some cinematic moments that feel genuine.  The chemistry between Kirby and Williams starts out as a strength in this capacity, but as the film moves forward it turns into a weakness as their story becomes a self-indulgent drab portrait of flawed individuals.  With redemption for the protagonists not a possibility and their entertainment value dwindling as the plot moves forward, the quality of the film plummets immensely.  It seems then the only point of the movie is to tell the story of two misguided narcissists who see fit to trample the lives of those they love for no better reason than self-indulgence.  It’s like peeking into the lives of two people, who you don’t like and who aren’t interesting; and doing so for no good reason. 

As for the cast, Michelle Williams’ performance is fairly uninspiring.  She is on this run of playing characters that are somewhat troubled, flawed, and spend half the movie in tears.  That more or less sums up her character in this movie and truth be told she has played this type of role with much greater veracity in the past.  Luke Kirby does her no favors as her accomplice in adultery.  His Daniel plays like a low rent amalgamation of a dozen similar characters peppered across the pantheon of romance-centric indie movies.  And as for Seth Rogen, he is the most competent of this triumvirate as the wronged husband, but that is not saying much.  He is muted, neutered, and lacks any of the qualities that have made him an entertaining performer in the past.

The finished product that is Take This Waltz is incredibly disappointing.  On the surface, it is one of those films that looks and feels like a good art house flick given the stated premise and the cast, but when you get past the cinematography, the soundtrack, and the names on the marquee, what you find is a story that is bland, pointless, and a little too pseudo realistic for its own good.  I would not recommend this movie unless you are looking for a movie that will push you to boredom and leave you feeling sordid and melancholic by time the credits roll.  You have been warned.

Standout Performance: Sarah Silverman.  Her performance was just satisfactory throughout the movie, but she gets the nod for the last set of lines she delivers in the film, which come the closest to adding any redeeming qualities to the movie.  


  1. i think its a great movie about human emotions. i cried at the end.