Michelle Williams is falling in love, the only problem is she's married
Take This Waltz (2012)
Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen
When a married woman makes an instant connection with another guy, she starts to question everything about her marriage and her life.
Take This Waltz is the story of a fairly happily married woman (Michelle Williams) who has a chance encounter with a handsome man (Luke Kirby) and begins to fantasise about the possibility of being with him. When it turns out the charming devil lives across the street, she has to hide her longings from her generally oblivious husband (Seth Rogen).
There’s a reason Rogen’s character is oblivious – by all appearances everything is just dandy in the relationship. They both have jobs, a house and an unselfconsciously infantile relationship that works well on screen. But while Williams’ practices silly mannerisms and a grating baby voice at home, she also purports to want to grow up, to try something new and different.
Take This Waltz is not a subtle film. An early exchange between Williams and Kirby has her talk about her fear of missing airport connections, of being caught ‘in between things.’ The same pathology is reflected in her relationship – she constantly wonders if things might be better elsewhere, with someone different.
The aggressive messages and symbols fly thick and fast, like when we get an extended scene of geriatric shower nudity as one wizened septuagenarian suggests that even new things get old. Do you get it? She was young once and now she’s aged and life lessons mutter mutter…
For the record, there are certainly things to like about Take This Waltz. Williams gives her usual committed performance and throws herself completely into the sometimes ridiculous intimacies of a long term relationship. Playing a character who is essentially a self obsessed bitch, she claws back a reasonable amount of sympathy and aggravates in equal measure. Rogen is fine though can’t handle the heavier stuff and Kirby is certainly handsome and charming when required, providing enough of a contrast to explain (if not justify) his appeal.
The main problem is that the main drama is hopelessly contrived. If only Williams was a little more likeable or Rogen a little less kind and loving, we might feel more connected to the slow attrition of their relationship. As it is, Polley paints her protagonist as spoiled immature lady-child, before stretching our patience even further with an extraneous and awkward ending which stretches on for far too long.
Flawed, overlong and obvious in its metaphors, Take This Waltz is redeemed somewhat by the ever watchable Williams and some impressive lensing. But it’s not enough to save it.