BY RICK JACKSON
Take This Waltz is a beautifully crafted romantic drama about a young couple whose marriage is threatened by a stranger who turns out to be their next door neighbour.
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn) turns in another fine performance as Margot who doesn't know what she wants when she slowly falls in love with Daniel, a ricksaw puller who insinuates himself into her life.
Written and directed by Sarah Polley (Away From Her) her latest is a testament to the power of love that is disguised as a comic valentine with a twist. Just as you feel for Margot, you also want her to make the right decision and be happy with her cookbook author-husband Lou (Seth Rogen).
Williams brings to her role an excitement you might recognize if you have ever wished to have your life injected with something wonderful that it might just come true. Polley conveys all the characters with honesty and a yen for life that should be rewarded with happiness. However, this is not a saccharine laden film of sweetness like the Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies of the 1950s and 1960s.
You first realize Margot's sexual repression is the main driving force behind her innocent walks NS her dialogue hints at something missing in her marriage that she wants to have rekindled. When Daniel (Luke Kirby from the CBC TV series Republic Of Doyle) shows up, she is reminded of happier days with Lou but she has difficulty articulating her true feelings toward her husband. Their marriage is perceived to be happy by all their friends but it is the utter reality of the moment that invades their existence and the film becomes more serious than just a simple fantasy.
Each of the characters shares a common weakness that leaves them open to be hurt and this is the main sticking point in Polley's literate script. How it all ends is also just as real and it may provoke discussion about your own life.
A rarity is the use of Canadian songs to underscore the thematic elements of fidelity, love and respect in a relationship: Rise Up by The Parachute Club (1983) is effectively used in an exercise class in the pool to symbolize how much you need to free yourself of daily stress, while Take This Waltz (1988) by Leonard Cohen serves as a warning to be more honest with your spouse. Stand Tall (1976) by Burton Cummings is used in a key scene.
Although action spaks louder than words, Williams shines as a normal human being whose feelings of sexual repression draw her closer to understanding the present status of her marriage. Her feelings toward Daniel discreetly reveal what they need to be with Lou. Clearly, Daniel remains the outsider who wants to break up her marriage out of his own selfishness.
Seth Rogen portrays Lou as a man of few words but he is ignorant of Margot's sexual needs and you hope for the moment when the two of them reunite like the once happy couple they really are.
Polley's insight into marriage today is an unerring observation of her generation and it is done with an innocent but brilliant way. It remains up to the individual moviegoer in a relationship or marriage to identify with the innermost thoughts and feelings of the main characters.
The final scene when Margot is alone and feeling free for the first time speaks volumes. The point she makes to make is achieved wihout any dialogue. All you see is the expression on her face and from this you are left to think about the outcome.
Take This Waltz restores one's faith in the romantic film with such scope and levity in what is certain to be one of the best films of the year.
It is rated 18A, with the warnings: coarse language, nudity and sexual content.
July 1, 2012
Copyright Rick Jackson 2012