Take This Waltz

4 Jun

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Released in 2011, Take This Waltz is a simple film about a married woman falling for another man and not knowing how to deal with her feelings. That woman is Margot (Michelle Williams), her husband is Lou (Seth Rogen) and the ‘other man’ is Daniel (Luke Kirby).

Initially, Margot seems to be happy with her husband. They lie in bed in the morning calling each other silly names and being sickeningly mushy. However, she is also a woman with some serious insecurities. When Daniel moves in across the street and makes his interest in her known, she starts to develop some unwanted feelings for him. She goes through a lot of emotional turmoil before deciding whom she’ll settle for, her loyal husband or infatuated neighbour.

I found a lot of things to like about this film. First of all, as I’ve said in a couple of reviews before, Michelle Williams is a wonderful actor. She has previously played a similar role – that of somebody struggling to hold a marriage together – in the wonderful Blue Valentine. In the movies I’ve seen her in, I’ve yet to see a disappointing performance. She really gives Margot a heart and grounds her in reality, turning her into a very believable character. As ever, it’s the subtleties that Williams does particularly well. Her silences are as pronounced as her dialogue, conveying bucket loads of emotion without saying a single word.

In this regard, Seth Rogen is a good foil for her. He also acts well without dialogue and their screen chemistry is good. The scenes where we can really start to see the cracks in their relationship are filled with tension. One in particular stands out, when the pair are eating in a restaurant. Margot wants to chat; Lou just wants to eat without the hassle of conversation. It effectively highlights the problems at the heart of their marriage.

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Luke Kirby is also fine as Daniel, the other love interest. He is never dislikeable and, despite the fact that Lou seems a good guy, I never viewed Daniel as a home-wrecker or a bad person. Kirby portrays him well enough.

Where the film does fall short a little is in its overt attempts to be quirky. It’s not enough that Daniel is an artist, he also drives a rickshaw for a living. Lou is a cook in the process of writing a chicken cookbook. These are clear attempts to establish the characters in the real world, doing real jobs. It’s not a new idea, and it’s not a bad one either, but a rickshaw-driving artist? Come on – it’s too obviously quirky and feels a little forced. There are other elements to this picture that have the same effect, but you can discover those for yourself.

Despite my praise of the well-acted silences earlier, it would also be fair to say there are times when they feel a little over-done and the film threatens to become boring and fade into obscurity. Overall, it is good enough to avoid that fate, but there are certainly noticeable lulls in the film where it’s a little difficult to retain interest.

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Take This Waltz is a solid film about romance that doesn’t shy away from showing it’s audience that love stories don’t have to be filled with hope and happiness. Lead by the always-watchable Michelle Williams, it’s a good film that ticks all the boxes it wants to, but occasionally becomes a little dull. Pitched somewhere around the magnificent and superior Blue Valentine, it fails to hit the heights that film did, but non-the-less makes a good go of getting to the heart of how a marriage can become stale.

7/10

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