IMDb describes the plot of Take This Waltz, a smart little indie released in Canada last year, as such: “A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street.” Which, of course, caught my attention because how could a happily married woman fall for someone else? If you watch Take This Waltz, you’ll see that it happens fairly easily, actually.
Michelle Williams stars the the happily married woman, Margot, who lives with husband Lou (Seth Rogen in a very non-Seth Rogen role) in Toronto. Williams, if you haven’t noticed, has grown into a surprisingly good actress. Of all the Dawson’s Creek kids, I would not have pegged Williams as the one to go on to such a lucrative film career. Williams’ Margot is a little quirky but sort of shy, not at all unhappy but, perhaps, missing…something. Her interactions with Rogen paint the couple as two people who clearly care for each other, who are as comfortable and easy with each other as two five year-old bff’s. But, dig a little deeper, and you’ll notice there is a lack of passion, of intimacy in their relationship.
Margot meets her neighbor, Daniel (Luke Kirby), an artist earning his rent by carting people around town in a rickshaw. Daniel is cute and free-spirited, seems abundant with passion for his art and for life and, from his first encounter with Margot, is very obviously drawn to her. Margot makes it known from the beginning that she is married and the majority of the film is a will-she, won’t-she situation where you, the viewer, wonders whether or not she’ll actually cheat. You’ll also sit in conflict about whether or not you want her to. Not that anyone condones cheating, but there is excellent chemistry between Margot and Daniel and part of you will want to see them together. On the other hand, Lou is a damned sweet guy who isn’t a schmuck or an asshole and who genuinely loves his wife, so you also want to see him happy. I won’t spoil anything for you but I will say this: either way, it would have left me with conflicted feelings.
Rogen’s take on Lou, a twenty-something chef who’s working on a cookbook, is such a refreshing change for him. I like Seth Rogen but even I was starting to get annoyed with the repetitive feel of every role of his. It’s so good to see him branching out. As it happens, he’s not at all annoying when he isn’t constantly stoned and shouting vulgarities.
Sarah Silverman stars as Lou’s sister, a recovered alcoholic with a husband and kids whose friendship with sister-in-law Margot adds another dimension to the would-be affair. Silverman gives a good performance with some comedic moments but weighted down with serious, and at times, rather dark, overtones. She carries it surprisingly well.
I won’t say this is a film I’d buy or want to watch repeatedly. And it’s definitely not one made for broad appeal. Writer/director Sarah Polley was not pandering to the masses with this one. But the scenery is gorgeous, the colors rich and beautiful, and every character feels real. No one-dimensional people to be found here. Still, days later, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it. Which leads me to like it a bit more since, if nothing else, at least it’s got me thinking.