Two of the most common criticisms levelled at romantic movies are that the characters are too generic and boring to be interesting, or that the plot is too predictable and formulaic. This isn’t a surprise, seeing that relationships are by their very nature personal, intimate things. Take This Waltz is an example of what happens when a movie tries to go in the complete opposite direction- and the result? Well…
Take this Waltz is the story of Margot, a married woman who meets an attractive young artist while on a business trip. As the story unfolds, Margot, played by Blue Valentine star Michelle Williams, realises this man lives right across the road from her. Through a series of coincidences and some light stalking, they form a relationship which will test the strength of her devotion to her husband (Seth Rogan).
Both Williams and Rogan do a brilliant job with the roles they are given. They are clearly putting their all into this, injecting personality into the characters that makes them feel very real. It’s just a shame the characters are also really annoying.
Writer and director Sarah Polley is obviously aware that couples usually have little quirks and funny little in-jokes that only they understand. What she seems to have neglected to include is everything else that makes them people. The effect is an eerie sense that we are witnessing a couple trying far too hard to appear in love. I would liken it to that awkward, uncomfortable feeling of sitting next to a teenage couple kissing in a bus stop; at the same time both too cutesy and too explicit. I for one was routing for them to split up right from the off.
My second issue with Take This Waltz was the plot. It’s only goal seems to be unpredictability. This has the unsettling effect of making all the characters seem to be doing things completely at random, with virtually no motivation. I challenge you to watch this movie without thinking “why would anyone do/say that?”. In fact, I believe you could make a pretty effective drinking game out of it.
So you take the quirky, unpredictable characters and the quirky, unpredictable plot, you put them together and you’re left with a movie that feels disjointed, impossible to follow and ultimately pointless. Not to mention that overall it paints a depressingly pessimistic picture of marriage and love in general. But this doesn’t even feel like the natural and logical conclusion of the story. In order to force this film to it’s ultimate conclusion, the characters switch between acting like the impulsive twenty-something’s they actually look like to rigidly stubborn middle-agers that have all but given up on the world.
To sum up
I’m not going to say this movie doesn’t have it’s moments – there are one or two funny scenes and a few clever lines, even if they are mostly hidden behind heavy handed metaphors and cringe-worthy dialogue. When it comes down to it though, it would be wrong of me to recommend a movie I actually had a lot of trouble sitting through.
Take This Waltz is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.