- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Magnolia Pictures
Reviewed by Ezra Stead
any successful child actors fail to carry their success into adulthood, but Sarah Polley is one of the few who has, beginning at a very early age with films like Terry Gilliam's underrated “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” and continuing into her twenties with films like Doug Liman's “Go” and Zack Snyder's “Dawn of the Dead” remake. In 2006, she made an impressive debut as a writer and director with “Away from Her,” an amazingly mature and thoughtful film about an aging couple dealing with the ravages of time, as the wife struggles with Alzheimer's Disease. With her latest film, “Take This Waltz,” Polley proves that her first film was no fluke and that she is one of the most insightful directors working in independent film today.
Michelle Williams stars as Margot, a freelance writer who makes an unexpected connection with a stranger, first while on assignment in Nova Scotia and then on the flight back to her home in Toronto. The stranger is Daniel (Luke Kirby), and it turns out he lives right across the street from Margot and her husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), a chef who is writing a cookbook specifically about preparing chicken. Margot and Lou are very happy in their marriage, but Margot is increasingly drawn in by Daniel, who offers her something Lou cannot: a feeling of newness. This isn't all he offers her, of course, but it is a major theme of the film; as Margot's friend Karen (Jennifer Podemski) says to her at one point, "New things get old."
This is the crux of Margot's dilemma: She still loves Lou, and he loves her, but after four years of marriage, much of the excitement and passion is inevitably gone. They have comfort and stability, and their relationship is not without fun – one of the most endearing things about the couple is the way they verbally compete to come up with the most creative ways to mutilate each other – but their sex life has become routine and even conversation has dried up to a certain degree. When a couple has lived together day in and day out for years, it's often difficult to come up with new things to say. Daniel, on the other hand, excites and challenges her at every turn, and Margot finds herself torn between the life in which she has become invested and the possibilities of a new one.
Polley wisely avoids the expected in favor of the true. Lou is never villainous or even unlikable, and Daniel is no perfect saint come to rescue Margot from her drudgery. Instead, they are flawed, complex and real, and the film never offers easy solutions. Lou's sister Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) nicely sums up the problem when she says, “Life has a gap in it. It just does.” No matter how happy and content we think we are in any given situation, there is always a tantalizing new possibility around the corner, ready to inspire and, ultimately, disappoint. The best we can hope for through the ups and downs is to learn and grow.