Monday, July 23, 2012
TAKE THIS WALTZ
Take This Waltz (please) is the new Sarah Polley movie, the writer/director of Away From Her. She is also the writer/director here, perhaps not her strongest choice this time around. It’s about Margo (played by Michelle Williams) who is bored with her life and her marriage, which is actually understandable since she isn’t a particularly interesting person herself. She meets cute a neighbor, Daniel (played by Luke Kirby), and contemplates having an affair. And contemplates and contemplates and contemplates until you want to yell at the screen, “shit, or get off the pot, already”. There are actually two scenes in Take This Waltz that are very effective. One is a scene where Margo gets Daniel to follow her; not talk to her, not try to seduce her, just follow her. This seems to represent the sort of attention she would like to receive from her husband Lou (played by Seth Rogan, and in defense of Margot, he’s not Mr. Excitement either—he reminded me of Herbert Marshall in The Letter where you could understand Bette Davis taking a lover if this dull lump was her only alternative). The other scene takes place on a carnival ride where Margot and Daniel whirl around in breathless excitement to an incredibly upbeat song. And then in mid-song, the music and ride stops. This seems to symbolize Margot’s predicament, that life is made up of these exciting and even transcendental moments, but then they suddenly end and the dullness of existence comes crashing down around you. And when all is said and done, this does seem to be the point that Polley is trying to make, what the movie is suppose to be about. The problem is that Polley doesn’t really let us in on this idea until the last ten to fifteen minutes of the movie, which, I suggest, is perhaps not the best way to sell her theme. If this idea is what the movie is supposed to be about, then it seems that it should be the driving force of everything that happens. Instead, we’re subjected endlessly to Margot’s inner struggle as to whether she’s going to break the seventh commandment, which, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t that stimulating a topic to dwell on for four minutes short of two hours. What perhaps should be noted is that in the two scenes described above, no words are spoken, no lines exchanged. That may be one key as to why they are so effective. The dialog here is a bit bland, banal and not particularly memorable. And Williams, who has become a marvelous actor since moving away from that Creek she used to live near, delivers each of those lines by first making a face to indicate her dramatic intent and then saying the words, which is a bit too redundant for my taste. Sarah Silverman as Margot’s sister-in-law actually gives the most interesting performance, perhaps because she has the most interesting character to play, an alcoholic who falls off the wagon and rips Margot a good one. Polley has done better work with the movie Away From Her, a touching film about someone descending into Alzheimer’s. Perhaps the reason there is because she had better source material, an Alice Munroe story. Here, the script is totally Polly’s child and probably doesn’t show the director at her best.