Netflix Movie Month: "Take This Waltz" Review

Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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Rating: R
Length: 116 minutes
Release Date: September 11, 2011
Directed by: Sarah Polley
Genre: Comedy / Drama

A cinematic sleeper, "Take This Waltz" tells the tale of Margot, a nearly 30 writer who struggles with her relationship with her husband while she commences a dalliance with the gregarious rickshaw driver and artist living across the street. After five years of marriage, Margot ponders whether her thoroughly devoted husband is still the right man for her. The film depicts how her decisions impact her life and those around her, sometimes in unanticipated ways.

Serendipity plays a role in this film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. When Margot begins to feel vaguely dissatisfied in her marriage to Lou, she meets Daniel the rickshaw driver while on a business trip. There is a noticeable spark between them, which fans when the duo learn that they live across the street from one another.

As the plot evolves, Margot and Daniel's dalliances become more frequent and serious, and she determines that she would be happier with him than with her husband. Ever the faithful and supportive spouse, Lou understands Margot's decision to leave him. She moves in with Daniel.

In short speed, Margot comes to conclude that life with Daniel is not all that she imagined it would be. In time, Margot is confronted by Lou's sister, Geraldine, a recovering alcoholic. While intoxicated, Geraldine explains to Margot that leaving Lou was not the answer and that every relationship has gaps and a person must find a way to fill them without abandoning the situation.

Actor Michelle Williams breathes life into the role of Margot. She renders Margot both a believable and sympathetic character, even when she is abandoning her highly likable husband to run off with the rickshaw driver across the way. Having been in a long term relationship with brilliant actor Heath Ledger that ended not long before his untimely death, her own life experiences have likely provided her a unique inspiration to play a character faced with the intricate challenges of a complicated relationship.

With three Oscar nominations under her belt, notably for her stunning portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn" in 2011, "Take This Waltz" further underscores why Williams is deserving of accolades. Although not a face regularly seen on the cover of tabloids, Williams nonetheless is a Hollywood talent powerhouse, turning in solid performances since her critically acclaimed turn as a high school student said to be responsible for accidentally bringing down Richard Nixon in the Watergate satire, "Dick."

Lou, the likable, if not beleaguered, husband is played by perpetual film nice guy Seth Rogan. Although the character of Lou truly is not a stretch for Rogan and represents a part moviegoers have seen Rogan fill several times, he does turn in a solid performance. Because of Rogan's solid performance, the audience roots for his character as he muddles through a life with and without Margot at his side.

Acerbic comedienne Sarah Silverman shines as Lou's alcoholic sister, Geraldine. Her pointed delivery style, likely sharpened through years as a stand-up comic, renders her a perfect fit for the character of Geraldine. Tough and no nonsense - despite, or perhaps because of - her own battles with booze, Geraldine provides a sort of moral compass for the drifting Margot and a meaningful sounding board for her brother, Lou.

"Take This Waltz" represents Sarah Polley's second turn as a feature film director. She also wrote the well-crafted screenplay for the film. Her first screenplay, "Away From Her," won her an Oscar nod. She brings years of experience as a motion picture and television actor to her efforts as a director, which are represented in the easy way her cast maneuvers through the scenes in this film.

Polley's screenplay is a well-crafted piece. The dialog is entrancing, taking the audience along with Margot as she sorts through the complications of her relationships while trying to find a more grounded existence. Polley manages the task of combing pathos and comedy with seeming ease and in a manner with which the audience can connect and relate.

Although "Take This Waltz" was not a box office sensation for its producers, it has been a cinematic art house favorite in more recent years. What it may lack in money generation, "Take This Waltz" makes up for in the on-screen efforts of its talented cast and crew. Moviegoers lock into the characters early on in the film, which takes them through the maze the characters travel in coming to understand themselves, each other and the ways in which they connect best.

Rating: 3 out of 5