“It’s very, very hard to turn away from falling in love and very few people can do it,” said Sarah Polley, writer and director of the fearlessly intimate new relationship dramedy Take This Waltz. The film, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen as a late-twenties married couple, Margot and Lou, is a real look at the marriage myth and the truth about human desire.
This isn’t just another “cheating” movie made to shame those whose hearts and minds stray from their beloved. In fact, Take This Waltz debunks, rather than perpetuates, the prevalent belief that committing to someone means shutting off your senses to the rest of humanity.
Williams as Margot is silly, funny, and always searching. (Do I need to say her acting is amazing?) Though her relationship with her husband Lou is what most would consider “great”—they are playful friends who know everything there is to know about each other—she seems to overanalyze her situation, which leads to restlessness. Lou is a steadfast and slightly detached chef-slash-cookbook writer, and Rogen brings a kindness and sense of humor to him that makes him loveable.
But as easy as it is to root for the couple’s relationship, it’s just as easy to root for the affections of Daniel, the hot artist next door, played by Luke Kirby. That’s what makes this movie so real: relationships develop, feelings occur, and it’s unfortunate that the nature of monogamy means that a choice has to be made. On one hand, Margot has a kind husband of five years in whose company she is at home. On the other, she has the chance to experience that coveted feeling that is so fleeting, the feeling that she hasn’t felt in about five years: the ravenous stomach fluttering of new romance.
Even the most black-and-white supporters of monogamy may buckle under the sexual tension of the “martini scene,” where, sitting at a bar in the afternoon, Daniel confidently whispers every detail of what he would do to Margot if given the chance. “Being in-between things is kind of the nature of being alive,” posits Margot during one of her introspective laments, and this sexy scene makes a good argument for exploring the gray areas she is so afraid of.
Even through all of the complicated questions it raises, Take This Waltz is still fun, sexy, and full of laugh-out-loud moments. Plus, it’s delightfully dirty as only real life and art films can be. For you pervs out there who are more visual, there’s nudity and lots of it, including an already oft-Googled shower scene featuring (all of) Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman. In a bold and successful casting choice, Silverman plays Geraldine, a recovering alcoholic who is Margot’s friend and a family member of Lou’s. Despite (and maybe because of) her problems, her advice is often the most spot-on in the film: “Life has a gap in it; it just does,” says Geraldine. “You don’t go racing around trying to fill it like some lunatic.”
It’s obvious that Polley is an actress herself: as a director, she gives the actors time and freedom to explore the characters she has created, and the result is bittersweet and inspiring. Adding to the overall effect is the beautiful city surroundings, which serve as a colorful and expressive backdrop provided by Polley’s hometown of Toronto (Luke Kirby is also a fellow Canadian; the two previously worked together on the hit show Slings and Arrows). For Polley, as for most people when they face difficult decisions, “the only real truth is in ambiguity,” and this film, engineered so that you will cast yourself into the main role and make your own decision, is a beautiful testament to never knowing what is “right.”
Take This Waltz arrives in theatres on Friday, June 29th.