by Joanna Orland
Sarah Polley has always been a Canadian media darling, from her youthful start in front of the camera on the CBC drama Road to Avonlea, to her behind the scenes directorial successes including Away from Her. With her latest directorial features Take This Waltz, Polley examines central character Margot as she struggles to choose between two different types of love.
Michelle Williams gives an excellent and endearing performance as Margot. The character is very flawed on screen, and off. The writing for this character can often be weak and grating, but with Michelle’s strong and gripping performance, the audience can overlook some of her stupid lines of dialogue, annoying baby talk and gratuitous nudity. She is the heroine of this piece, but is rather unlikeable and it can be frustrating to watch her journey. The audience can see from scene one that it is not her marriage or potential love affair that are her true problems in life, but it is most certainly going to need to be within herself to find happiness from an internal place.
Seth Rogen plays her wet as a fish husband Lou. His performance in this film is very bland and lacks emotion. He was the wrong casting choice. His sister Geraldine played by Sarah Silverman was a much stronger and better acted character. With her own problems including alcoholism, she acted as a moral compass for Margot, until things inevitably derail for the pair. Sarah Silverman, known for her vulgar sense of humour and stand-up routines, did an excellent dramatic turn in this role, and I hope to see her taking on more serious roles in the future. Luke Kirby is the unknown of the cast, taking on the role of Margot’s potential lover Daniel. He is endearing, charming and never as dislikeable as Margot herself.
In addition to these main characters, the city of Toronto is itself its own character. The sites including the Lake, College Street, Parkdale and The Scrambler ride on Centre Island all play prominently in the plot as much as in the setting. The sweltering heat of a Toronto summer can almost be felt emanating off of the screen where everything on camera appears to have the sweaty and sticky effect of the Toronto sun. The hotness of the city makes every scene claustrophobic and uncomfortable, helping the audience feel more empathetic to Margot’s frustrations and isolation.
While the character of Toronto helped the audience to empathize, it did little to help the audience take sides of the characters. The main problem with the love triangle of Take This Waltz is that the audience isn’t rooting for anybody to come out on top. Clearly there is more chemistry between Daniel and Margot than between Margot and Lou, but it is obvious from the start that Margot needs some time on her own to discover herself, and what happiness truly is. Does she figure this all out for herself? Well, you will need to watch the film to find out.