Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Feminist Review: Take This Waltz

This small, Canadian romantic indie film starring Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby and directed by Sarah Polley seems like it should a moving and insightful film about relationships (much like Michelle Williams earlier movie, Blue Valentine, was). However, despite its female centered love triangle, the film offers little of interest.

If you were to read the synopsis of this film on IMDB it would tell you that “A happily married woman falls for the artist across the street,” a pretty uninformative summary since it’s apparent from the first scene that Margot is unhappy and struggling in her marriage.  The film follows Margot (Michelle Williams) as a slightly off-kilter aspiring writer married to chicken cookbook-writer Lou (Seth Rogen). Margot meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) while doing research for a pamphlet she’s writing and then again on the plane, only to discover that he lives on the same street as her. And so begins their romance, full of clich├ęd significant looks and fevered whispers, as they get lost in the forbidden.

Unfortunately, my two sentence synopsis was far more interesting than the movie itself, since much of the movie was long shots of Williams looking confused and depressed and Rogen acting oblivious.  The music was a particularly pretentious brand of lackluster indie and on the whole, the film just felt like it was trying too hard to be profound.

In reality, the best parts of the film came from Margot’s interaction with her sister in law, Geraldine or the brilliant Sarah Silverman. Silverman’s character is a recovering alcoholic who, at the end of the film, offers one of the two best lines in the film, “Life has a gap in it, it just does, but you can’t go crazy trying to fill it.” (She’s also a part of a legitimately funny scene involving the incredible world of water aerobics, I tried to find a clip of it online, but alas, I failed).

It’s after the water aerobics scene when we get the second best line of the film, delivered by a naked older woman in the women’s locker room (a great scene by Polley that doesn’t shy away from the normally unsightly issue of aging and women’s bodies); Margot is wistfully considering the merits of “something new” with Geraldine and the woman smiles wisely and replies “New things become old.”

There was a subplot of the film that had some potential as well had it been developed a bit more, in particular the issue of Margot’s sexuality. It’s obvious that Margot and Lou are not the most sexually active of couples since we see Margot attempt to seduce Lou several times, only to be rejected in favor of his cooking. While the lack of sex doesn’t seem to especially bother him, it could be argued that one of the reasons Margot continues to seek after Daniel is the promise of sexual discovery that he offers her. At one point in the film, there is a montage of Daniel and Margot having sex  (it sounds spicy, but really, don’t get excited) where it becomes apparent that Margot is finally able to explore that part of herself; the premise was interesting and one that I think many women can identify with, however I think it could have been fleshed out a little more.

I wanted this film to be good; the trailer was interesting, all of the actors are talented, and Polley is a promising new director (who I would be interested in seeing more of in the future). While there were good moments and unique ideas being toyed with, the film was, in reality, a lukewarm portrayal of a good topic; in short, I was bored most of the time.

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