Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Luke Kirby
Release Date: 17 August 2012
There’s a scene at the start of director Sarah Polley’s sophomore effort that’s supposed to endear us to its main character. Bundled into a wheelchair and being hauled through a busy airport, Margot (Michelle Williams) does her best baby deer as she attempts to hand her ticket over the big desk. But after being delivered to her seat and given a big glass of milk, Margot reveals to a fellow passenger that there’s actually nothing wrong with her legs, she’s just scared of airports and feigns injuries to get a free push.
This scene sets the tone for Take This Waltz, a film that manages to not just be bad, but offensively bad. Set in a sweaty Toronto, it follows cutesy couple Margot and Lou (Seth Rogen) whose marriage begins to fall apart after Margot decides she wants their rickshaw-runner neighbor. What follows is two hours in the company of people you would cross the road to avoid. Characters say things like “I painted this portrait of you” and “I saw sunlight shining on the pavement today and I just wanted to cry” with no trace of self-awareness or irony.
The first half of the film is like being a third wheel to a couple who think expressing affection through baby-talk is not something that should warrant social ostracising (and certainly not the making of a fictional film in their honour), while the second half is a slow, painful deconstruction of the first that comes across as incredibly conceited. Although an earnest Sarah Silverman convinces as a recovering alcoholic (and delivers the film’s one great line) and Seth Rogen as Lou gets a morsel of redemption at the end, the film is so weighed down with blindingly obvious symbolism and performances that manage to be both strained and lackadaisical that you just want to Leave Said Waltz before the credits and their obligatory twee guitar accompaniment kick in.
Words: Alex Towers