June 28, 2012
I’ve been looking forward to Take This Waltz, in part because of the fantastic promotion for the movie. There’ve been TV trailers, there’ve been photo-booths at events, there’s the website Conversation About Love (which you should definitely visit, it has some cute captures, and more practically, it's proof of people really engaging with a marketing campaign). I was definitely kicked about my free passes from Mongrel Media which got me into the movie preview at the Manulife Center. This is a quick review.
You know, you watch the trailers, you read the IMDB snippet, and you think, “Ok, I know what this movie’s all about, I know how it’s going to go.” The movie Take This Waltz works, in part, because there’s a lot of material in the movie that the trailers don’t even hint at. Sure, it’s a movie about all-consuming infatuation and the sometimes-tedium of marriage and choices. But in the end, it’s more about life than it is about love.
The movie has an all-talented cast of Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman, so you already know you’re going to see some powerful performances. I’ve seen a little too much of Williams being depressed this year, but she did have some fantastic whimsical, almost manic dialogues to work with. Silverman was her usual witty and wise self, I’d really like to see her take the lead in a mainstream movie. I don’t have much to say about Kirby, his role was pretty much that of a boy-toy prop and he played it well, but Seth Rogen, in my opinion, stole the show with his restrained performance and his very realistic responses. His character definitely grows on you through the movie and becomes more than a 2D figure.
In fact, you identify, sometimes uneasily, with every single one of the characters at some point in the film, and the often-funny dialogues keep them just real enough not to be too artsy. Sarah Polley directed reality into so many scenes in the movie and made the whole thing not only believable, but also intense. There was some interesting camerawork and audio in the movie, which had me fascinated as a student of film studies. Every frame’s practically a portrait, and I enjoyed scenes where the sounds inside/outside a house were interspersed with each other. The movie’s filmed almost entirely in Toronto, and I may be reading too much into it, but the city did seem like a good backdrop to the characters’ restlessness and pace of life.
As the movie progressed, you found yourself wondering how it would end, how this series of events could possibly end. I think the scriptwriters had the same question because there were several points when you nearly got up, thinking it was over, but no, wait, there’s yet another shot. It did drag a little, but I think the viewer was offered several ways in which it could have ended, and I personally thought the real ending was about as fair or as unfair as life itself. You left the movie thinking that if the story had played out in real life, that’s probably what would have happened.
I’m not sure if mainstream audiences will appreciate the movie, it’s kind of the answer to ‘What happens after a happily ever after?’ and that’s never a comfortable place to go. But it definitely makes you think, and talk, and set aside your own day-to-day concerns for the two hours in which the movie runs. I personally enjoyed it: a man who desperately wants to rescue a woman who can’t be rescued from her perpetual sense of emptiness.
Is the woman too smart to ever be truly happy? Is her husband the smart one for figuring out how to just stop looking for more? A marriage without conversation seems like a lonely place to be… you can only see if it works by pushing it to the brink and seeing if you have words beyond the carnal and the cuddly.
All in all, it's the kind of movie that makes you want to sit down with a coffee afterwards and dissect every dialogue, every camera angle, every sound bite, to bits. I'm glad I watched it and I have a whole new list of places I want to see in Toronto after watching it!