Movie: Take This Waltz

I didn’t expect this film to resonate with me as much as it did, perhaps because I have never been married, but I could understand Margot’s (Michelle Williams) vacillations between her husband Lou (Seth Rogen), and her neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby). Lou is a good guy– he seems steady, reliable, funny, with a warm family (we never see any of Margot’s extended family, which I found odd), but the excitement of their relationship seems to have fizzled to amusing but childish games, and Margot’s ‘I love you’s to Lou are more childish still (‘I wuv you’ in a lispy voice).

She seems stuck, uncertain of her career, wanting to write, but not writing what she wants to; married, with no kids but possibly wanting some, and as the director Sarah Polley remarked, she’s not comfortable in her own skin. She’s not confident. Reverting to childishness could be a symptom, but then occasionally she does show bursts of adult certainty. ….more under the cut (spoilers exist)….

I think that one of the strongest and most adult decisions Margot makes is to leave her husband and take up with Daniel. Their flirtation doesn’t go beyond words and the barest of touches, and though some would consider that adultery in itself, the real physicality of the relationship doesn’t happen until Margot’s already left Lou. The montage of  scenes in Daniel’s new flat give us an idea of their early lust and passion (multiple partners, sex in bed, on a chair, on the floor, etc.), which gradually peters out into book-reading, television-watching, and other mundane activities. Probably the death knell of boredom peals when they’re in the bathroom together: Daniel is flossing, Margot is brushing her teeth and peeing. And, just prior, she’d begun to revert to the childishness we’d seen her enact with Lou.

There were a couple of spots where I thought this film could end, but I’m glad that it ended where it did; there’s no lovey-dovey saccharine perfection, no couple riding off into the sunset, in love happily ever after. Finally. I wish more films would end with something closer to realism. I appreciate Sarah Polley’s script and how she didn’t take the easy way out, to have it end with Margot and Daniel in love. It certainly could have, with this love as the solution to all their problems. It would have been very Hollywood. Quite honestly, if it had ended that way, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this film at all… it would have been filed away as ‘oh, nice love story’, and that would have been it.

That’s why I think Sarah Polley is awesome, and why I’ll always have immense respect for Canadian cinema. It doesn’t get as much attention as it ought, and I hope Take This Waltz does well at the box office.

More reading on the film: NYT, Calgary Herald, Vulture