Have you ever had that moment where you start something you think is going to be great, and you plough through the entire thing believing that it’s going to get better, and then at the end you wish you could have gotten that time back?
That is the essence of Take This Waltz (2011). If I have ever been so sure of something in my life, it’s that I don’t want you to waste one hour and 55 minutes of your life. It’s hard to find someone who can take talented actors like Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan and make their performances so terribly awkward that it’s hard to sit through one minute without wanting to gouge your eyes out.
Margot (Michelle Williams) is a pamphlet writer for national and historic parks and is (allegedly) happily married to cookbook author Lou (Seth Rogan). On a business trip, Margot meets an attractive man Daniel (Luke Kirby) who was at the same park and sat next to her on the plane ride home. Daniel happens to be Margot’s neighbor. He is also a rickshaw driver and an artist who is afraid to showcase his work. Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) is Lou’s sister and hangs out with Margot. Margot falls in love with Daniel over the course of the film and must figure out her life.
I honestly felt I missed something about the movie because I dislike it so much. I think the overall message of the film, if approached in at least a neutral manner, would be that life is fleeting and you need to appreciate it for what it is, and live in the present. However, the way that director Sarah Polley approached this message was that you need to be as selfish as humanly possible, and you need to be a despicable human being.
I love Michelle Williams. She has been a fantastic actor in every film I have seen her in (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, Shutter Island), not because she is a powerhouse actor, but because she is so subtle and understated in her performances. Seth Rogan is also a surprisingly talented dramatic actor; 50/50 is a great example of his versatility and ability to handle comedy and drama with ease. Even Sarah Silverman has the ability to switch between her rough humor and a sense of seriousness.
For some reason, when these actors are all put together on one set, the resulting product is a nightmare. The actors had no chemistry with each other; the “quirky” romance going on between Margot and Lou was forced and uncomfortable. The supposed passion between Margot and Daniel was nonexistent. Every time they were together, I was left squirming in my seat, praying that the scene would end.
The entire film was a neurotic mess. The dialogue was extremely non sequitur; the actors seemingly did not realize how to effectively deliver their lines, or rather, the screenplay was merely a poor writing job and had dialogue that didn’t make sense. Whole scenes could be eliminated and the plotline would have been the same. Sarah Silverman’s character didn’t even need to be in the film. There was entirely too much color in the movie as well. This seems like a trivial complaint, but the cinematographer’s use of color was overwhelming and made every scene confusing and muddled.
Most of the film was pointless. It merely told the story of unremarkable people who only wished to live for themselves; like Seinfeld but not funny or clever. I can appreciate a film that poses realist situations, but Take This Waltz created a series of events that could have made a compelling story, and instead turned it into a sequence of actions performed by self-serving, artificially creative people.
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys the allure of car wrecks – that feeling of disaster But You Just Have To Watch…watch Take This Waltz. For the rest of you who don’t like train wrecks, my advice to you is to just avoid it.