Actress and Director Sarah Polley challenges the audience with this indie flick about a seemingly happily married couple whose supposed bliss is rocked by the arrival of a handsome, enigmatic stranger.
Seth Rogan and Michelle Williams star as Margot and Lou, a quirky young couple living in a trendy downtown district of Toronto. Seth Rogan is gentle and endearing as cookbook author Lou. On paper he is the ideal husband, doting, affectionate and always cooking for his wife. For Margot however, this is not enough, as she finds herself imaging a life away from him with the attractive Daniel, the artist living across the street. Margot and Daniel initially cross paths at the airport when she is on her way back from a trip and the chemistry between them is instantaneous. She is then astounded by the revelation that he is in fact her neighbour and lives in the house opposite her own. Set at the height of a scorching Canadian summer, the scene is set for a potentially life altering decision. The audience is forced to question whether Margot should stay with the loving Lou, or follow her desires and choose Daniel.
As Margot, Williams is both frustrating and captivating; her persistent juvenile behaviour is often grating. Margot and Lou at times appear more like brother and sister than a couple deeply in love. Their constant play fighting and baby talk initially reads like a normal couple who are comfortable in each other’s company. However, as the film progresses it becomes apparent that the child-like behavior between them acts as a barrier to the passionate, sexual relationship that is so missing from their marriage. Margot finds herself increasingly more attracted to Daniel, and although no physical betrayal occurs early on in the film, her thoughts alone are enough to suggest infidelity. It is hard not to feel sorry for Lou, and at times difficult to rationalize Margot’s behavior, since her husband is nothing short of wonderful to her.
The film is a slow burner and leaves the audience questioning if what Margot ultimately chooses is the right thing. We are asked to empathise with her as a woman unfulfilled in her marriage, but at times this is impossible as to an outsider there seems to be nothing wrong with it. Margot is portrayed as a woman who has not yet outgrown the whimsical daydreams of childhood. She seems to be constantly striving for a kind of contentment that for her is simply unattainable. This is made even more plausible by the fact that she and Lou have only been married for five years, a seemingly short period of time. Take This Waltz cannot be regarded as uplifting as it seems to confront the issues that lie dormant in many of us. There is nothing wrong with Margot’s life yet she is searching for something better. The film has all the fundamental elements of the traditional indie movie, including an ending that can be regarded as ambiguous. We are taken on a slow journey where Margot must confront her own unhappiness, and left wondering if she finds resolve at the end.
Comedian Sarah Silverman plays Geraldine, Lou’s recovering alcoholic sister and is refreshingly honest in her attitude about life. She has it spot on when she remarks to Margot – “Life has a gap in it, it just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it”. This is what Take This Waltz ultimately communicates, as human beings we are never happy with what is good, we are always going to strive for more.