Published Sep 15, 2011Something of specific note in Sarah Polley's sophomore directorial outing, Take This Waltz, is how astutely it depicts the quotidian of a loving, but imperfect, long-term relationship.
Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) still routinely utter terms of endearment after five years of marriage, hugging each other from behind while cooking and occasionally playing tricks, like throwing cold water over a shower curtain for shock value.
Their sex is mechanical and routine, and the seemingly incidental, such as a logical and temporary refusal of affection, can lead to a daylong grudge because of the baggage it grazes. But, for the most part, they are content with each other, their routine and the sense of comfort they bring each other.
It's the sort of detail rarely captured on film with such perception, which is why the impetus of the story — the prospect of nascent whirlwind passion when a chance meeting and observed exploitation of airport disability assistance forces Margot together with ersatz-artist and rickshaw driver Daniel (Luke Kirby) — comes with such dramatic weight.
Polley's script similarly manages to capture the awkward flirtation and infatuated intrigue of a potentially passionate, impending romance. Scenes, such as one where Margot's interpretation of a drawing Daniel does of her leaves her telling him to "fuck off," are so playfully, hilariously realistic and off-centre that it's easy to identify with the simultaneous excitement and anxiety of something new.
And beneath it all is the ever-present, mostly pleasant marriage that can't justifiably be scrapped for uncontrollable hormones, which is repeatedly doted on through metaphors, such as shaving legs and a particularly inspired tilt-a-whirl session, wherein the excitement inevitably ends.
In fact, said tilt-a-whirl sequence, as well as an exceedingly inspired montage depiction of a relationship moving from passionate to comfortable, shows Polley's intense talent behind the camera, having a natural knack for revealing the devastatingly real truths about life and love.
It's just unfortunate that certain scenarios, such as an alcoholism subplot with Sarah Silverman, come off as slightly contrived, making clumsy the machinations of a wholly amusing and otherwise heartfelt ode to the desire for something foreign and exciting.
Regardless of minor flaws, Take This Waltz is an impressively astute, touching and hilarious movie about the actual relationships and internal struggles that never seem to make it onto film.
There's even a mid-movie water aerobics sequence with Williams and Silverman that made me laugh for nearly three minutes straight. (Mongrel Media)