Take This Waltz
Michelle Williams on compelling form in Sarah Polley's romantic drama
Are you old enough to remember the anthemic Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles, which will go down in pop history as being the first ever music video to play on MTV? Canadian actress turned director Sarah Polley uses the song on two occasions to powerful emotional effect in her follow-up to Away from Her, taking her title from a Leonard Cohen song, itself inspired by a Federico Garcia Lorca poem.
Set during a sweltering Toronto summer, Michelle Williams plays 28-year-old copywriter Margot, who’s been contentedly married for five years to cookbook author Lou (Seth Rogen). On a work trip to Nova Scotia, she meets the darkly handsome Daniel (Luke Kirby), a rickshaw driver and an artist, who turns out to live on her street in Toronto. She soon realizes that her feelings for Daniel are beginning to jeopardize her marriage.
Admittedly it’s not clear how this trio of characters can afford to live in such a delightful urban neighbourhood, given the modicum of work they appear to do. Shooting in warm tones and taking her time however, Polley proves to be a perceptive observer of the body language between couples, particularly the passive-aggressive dynamic between Margot and Lou. At times the dialogue feels contrived and Polley appears to load the dramatic dice: Seth is given a brood of noisy yet warm-hearted relatives, including Sarah Silverman’s alcoholic sister, whilst Daniel is a man seemingly without family or friends. Yet there are some impressive individual sequences here, notably an erotic monologue (in which the two characters remain fully clothed), and Williams is typically compelling, conveying the profound ambivalence Margot feels towards the emotional choices she ends up making.
Selected release from Fri 17 Aug.