There's a modest ambition coursing through the center of Take This Waltz, the latest film from actor turned director Sarah Polley. Her elegiac 2006 directorial effort Away from Her was among the strongest debuts of the previous decade. Take This Waltz doesn't quite reach the heights of that earlier work but its unerring focus on the sometimes dichotomous nature of domesticity and romantic love makes for a powerful interrogation that aligns the two films thematically. With this new film, Polley peels back the facade on a seemingly happy relationship, locating a deep longing widening an already present gap in the marriage of Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen).
Yet another film about a married couple whose friendship remains strong even as their physical connection is waning might not seem like anything new or special, but Polley is a gifted filmmaker who understands that showing us Margot's quiet moments of discontent is a far more effective storytelling strategy than having the character explain her emotional state. While on a business trip, Margot has a chance meeting with Daniel (Luke Kirby), a man who ends up being her new neighbor. Unsurprisingly, her instant attraction to Daniel only widens the gap between her and Lou and it's not long before Margot begins finding daily excuses to run into Daniel..
As is often the case when actors make the transition into directing, the film is truly an actor's piece; Williams is brilliant and Rogen turns in what might be his best performance yet, actually evoking a lot of depth behind the usual nervous joke-making that so often constitutes his on screen persona. Also of note is Sarah Silverman as a relative whose recently won sobriety casts her as a giver of sage advice, particularly when it comes to how not to live one's life.
Take This Waltz is a film that works on almost every level. There's a spare and lived-in quality to the writing and performances that betrays great respect for the audience. Plus, there's the pleasure of watching as Sarah Polley, long one of the better actresses working in independent film, continues to cement the impression that she'll grow into one of the indie world's best directors.
Take This Waltz begins its run at Living Room Theaters on Friday, July 20th. More info available here.
Remember to find and "like" us on our Facebook page.
Subscribe to the blog's feed here.