TAKE THIS WALTZ
(directed by Sarah Polley, 2012)
**** (out of 5)
> Could I have loved this film more? No. I don’t think so.
. Quite simply in a class of its own, this Canadian relationship film provides another good argument for more women directors. Michele Williams gives yet another in an ongoing string of astonishing performances. I adore this actress. Apparently this small town Montana girl got her start in popular prime-time TV teen soap opera “Dawson’s Creek”. I first noticed her in THE STATION AGENT, before she got her big break in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, for which she took home the little golden man. She was amazing to watch in BLUE VALENTINE and perfect in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. The camera loves her every mood and inflection. Lovers of female pulchritude appreciate the fact that the poor woman seems to have a difficult time finding scripts that require her to keep her clothes on.
. But pairing her with SETH ROGAN?!? Inspired or insipid? Not vaguely in the same league with Ms. Williams, the comedian does his usual lovable schlub routine- which is appropriate here, but he does have his moment when the camera does not turn away- a sequence where he has to carry great emotion, and to his credit Mr. Rogan pulls it off, engendering real empathy. But it’s not his film. TAKE THIS WALTZ is a really good film with a really bad title, as it tells you… absolutely nothing about the film. It’s about what happens in a longterm marriage when the spark goes out, and the possibility of exciting new love is dangled tantalizingly near. It’s a story of doomed courtship, usually- but this is not a usual film. Thankfully writer/director Sarah Polley has fashioned an unusually emotional and evocative movie that feels truthful- a film populated by real people we really care about, (including a very good Sarah Silverman as the alcoholic sister-in-law fighting to stay sober), though Luke Kirby as her suitor remained a bit of a mystery to me. Kirby is a fresh face, and while he held his own against powerhouse Williams, I wasn’t sure weather the guy was a nice guy or a creep. A nice creep perhaps? He did not evoke my sympathy, only my envy. No question- he wasn’t good enough for a woman like her!
. I knew I was not in for the usual fare when the camera went into the ladies locker room and lingered there, while actresses of all shapes, sizes and ages showered and exchanged sparkling dialogue. No false modesty, this is life: pure, raw, naked. And when the forbidden lovers do meet for martinis and her sexy suitor proceeds to describe what he’d do to her if she were not a married woman… Caliente! Delightfully explicit without pandering, the monologue gets hot, hot, hot in a decidedly indie way. I, for one, am happy to see more sex in my movies and less violence. I loved every scene of this movie: approved of every choice. And the end is a Michele Williams aficionado’s paradise: we get to see this top notch actress perform a perfect, flawless emotional transition that leaves us as breathless as she is, carnival bulbs gyrating madly to show that face the camera adores so well, in every conceivable light. Breathtaking!
. On the considerable strength of TAKE THIS WALTZ, I will seek out Ms. Polley’s films eagerly, and be the first to applaud when Ms. Williams picks up her first Best Actress Oscar! (Perhaps not for TAKE THIS WALTZ, but that day is coming…)
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