When Margot, (Michelle Williams) 28, meets Daniel, (Luke Kirby) their chemistry is intense and immediate. But Margot suppresses her sudden attraction; she is happily married to Lou , (Seth Rogen) a cookbook writer. When Margot learns that Daniel lives across the street from them, the certainty about her domestic life shatters. She and Daniel steal moments throughout the steaming Toronto summer, their eroticism heightened by their restraint.
Life is often about the choices we make, especially as we traverse the complex world of relationships and marriage. As we learn to communicate, as we get older communication is tough and sometimes impossible to navigate. The realities of human behavior are cinematically explored with unflinching honesty, humor and candid sexuality, in the second directorial feature by the gifted Sarah Polley. The Canadian actress/director has written a perfect script, hauntingly eloquent, as she explores the nature of human behavior, our needs, our desires and of course the ways in which we communicate. Polley is a terrific filmmaker, one who is not only aware of imagery and capturing every shot with such breathtaking precision, but she is also a gifted writer, proven with her debut feature, the exquisite Away from Her, a heartbreaking look at a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. While the two films seem to have little in common, both that and Take this Waltz explore human behavior with such unpretentious honesty. But Waltz is even more mature, even cinematically richer than her earlier work, a very literate and nuanced script. This is a work as much noted by its haunting silences as its sparse but beautiful dialogue. Few writer/directors are able to beautifully combine a mastery of writing with a true visual flair and there is a depth to Polley’s work that is quite remarkable.
As an actor as well, Polley is able to elicit such beautiful performances from unexpected quarters. Of course, Michelle Williams never fails to dazzle us with her varying roles of late, as she completely inhabits her characters. Here she is quite magnificent, haunting, sexy, funny and heartbreakingly honest, as Margot, a woman who realizes that there is more to life than a marriage that has become far too routine. From joy to anguish, it is all-prevalent throughout every facet of her performance. But it is Seth Rogen, as the in-communicative husband who takes his marriage for granted, who takes one by surprise. Often the ebullient and verbose comic, here Rogen speaks through silence, and his restrained performance speaks volumes as to who this character is. There is an emotional depth to Rogen’s acting we rarely see, and it is a surprisingly honest performance. Sarah Silverman also gives a brave, fabulous performance as Margot’s alcoholic sister-in-law, and relative newcomer Luke Kirby is perfect as the neighbor who changes Margot’s life.
Beautifully shot by Luc Montpellier (who shot Polley’s Away from Her) with a lovely score by Jonathan Goldsmith, Take this Waltz is a haunting, erotic and beautifully textured work that shows a filmmaker in full blossom.