Take This Waltz
Pros: Beautiful scenery
Cons: Script, characters
Take This Waltz tries. It really does. It tries to be different, edgy, poignant. But you can’t achieve those things if your script is awful, and that’s why it fails.
Writer/Director Sarah Polley had a theme in mind. We know this because she beats us over the head with it. The theme: “What’s new becomes old”.
Meet Margot and Lou (Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan). They appear to be a happily married couple. But Margot is having doubts. Despite their obvious affection for each other and their easy-going playfulness that defines their relationship, Margot doesn’t feel fulfilled. Thus she starts fantasizing about an affair with their neighbor Daniel (Luke Kirby).
At first Margot merely meets with Daniel. They keep things chaste, she’s determined not to cheat. But the tension grows to the point where Daniel decides he can’t take the situation anymore and moves away. This is the breaking point for Margot and she leaves her husband to chase her dream with Daniel.
Sadly, “what’s new becomes old” proves its point. Happiness isn’t so easy to obtain, as it turns out. Margot learns this the hard way – and causes unspeakable pain to others along the way.
Ok, so the story, itself isn’t so bad. After all, there have been plenty of movies about people straying from their marriages. So why do I say Take This Waltz fails?
Well, the first problem is that I did not like the main character. Michelle Williams is a fine actress, but the character of Margot is a trip. I knew in the first scene that she was a mess. Plagued by internal fears, lacking confidence, and unable to speak up for herself, she is simply not a character I could feel much sympathy for.
Secondly, while their marriage is not perfect (whose is?) it’s not terrible either. They care for each other. They have fun together. They live a nice, pleasant life together. But Margot wants more. And Lou is completely clueless. But I put this back on Margot. If you are unhappy, speak up. Give your husband and your marriage a chance. Perhaps things can be fixed. But Margot doesn’t seem to try to make things better. Instead she just wallows in her discontent, then runs away. Lou is completely blindsided! Sure, maybe he could have paid a bit more attention, but as shown, the blame lies far more with Margot than with Lou.
Finally, Take This Waltz is rated R and deserved every bit of that rating. There’s language, sex, and a lot of full-frontal female nudity. And I don’t mean quick little glimpses, I’m talking in-your-face, very obvious sex scenes and nudity that were clearly trying to send a message and take the movie to a new level. However, those things don’t make a movie great. Absent of a decent script, they must make the movie appear desperate. Desperate for viewers who will be drawn to that sort of thing. Whereas I found myself wishing they’d spent more time developing an appealing script instead.
Was there anything I liked? Yes, the visuals. This movie was filmed in Toronto, and I have to say, they painted the city in incredible light. Gorgeous colors, beautiful scenery, it looked amazing! Of course, this story takes place in the summer, I’d probably feel differently if it were winter.
In the end, Take This Waltz fails. The script and characters are just too flawed. Sit this one out.