Sometimes love hurts -- perhaps more often than "sometimes." Take This Waltz, written and directed by Sarah Polley, offers a bold film treatment dramatizing the pain of falling in love with someone other than your spouse. Of course, this subject has been dealt with in many other movies, but Polley’s film ranks as one of the best, thanks to extraordinary performances by Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit my great admiration for Michelle Williams as an actress. Almost all her movie portrayals come across as award-worthy to me. (My favorite Williams films are Wendy and Lucy, Blue Valentine, and Deception.) The magical way she projects feelings on screen draws me into the world of each character she plays. She hardly has to speak a word. Her expressive face and body language tell us practically everything we need to know. She would have been a wonderful silent film star! Fortunately, in Take This Waltz, writer Polley gives Williams words to say that match her acting talent. And, as Margot, a restless wife who falls for a handsome neighbor and feels tremendous guilt about it, Williams appears to put her whole heart and soul into this role.
Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet) excels as Lou, Margot’s loving husband. Lou tries to be as playful as his wife likes, but he’s working on a recipe book and can’t devote his full attention to her all the time. In one poignant monologue scene, Rogen gets to show off his terrific acting chops, which really surprised me. I hope he signs on for more dramatic parts like this one.
Temptation surfaces for Margot in the form of Daniel, played brilliantly by Luke Kirby (The Samaritan). He’s an artist who’s easy on the eye – and obviously attracted to her. Unlike Lou, Daniel is a good conversationalist who knows just how to talk to Margot, especially about sex, which contrasts with Lou’s simple “I wuv you.” Kirby and Williams create stunning romantic chemistry together on screen here. Their looks at each other are filled with longing, even in scenes where Margot and Daniel exchange cutting remarks.
There are no villains in Take This Waltz, only people with human faults and emotions. But eventually, Margot must make a decision. Should she stay with her faithful husband of five years or go with her new love and learn to live with her guilt? Williams does such a remarkable job as Margot that we suffer right along with her during this confusing time.
On the negative side, an “R”-rated film like Take This Waltz causes my inner church lady to issue a warning about the graphic nudity and explicit sex scenes included. I have to agree with her this time. In a riveting movie with splendid performances, going to extremes in these areas seems unnecessary.
(Released by Magnolia Pictures and rated “R” for language, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity.)
For more information about Take This Waltz, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.