Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz” the first misfire of TIFF 2011
By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: People sit in movie theaters all of the time, watching the same movie but seeing a different film.
Moments after Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz” screened for press and industry members at the Toronto International Film Festival, Twitter exploded with praise, the likes of which we haven’t seen since “The Raid” earlier in the fest. One critic who’s opinion I respect said it would make his Top 10 list of whatever year it comes out. Another colleague I spoke to talked about the ways Polley’s film moved him.
Yet, I hated the film. Virtually from the first few minutes, which presents such an incredible coincidence that to remove it would prevent the film from continuing. Oh, how I wish the film didn’t continue.
Michelle Williams cloaks herself in phony bohemianism to play Margot, a sometimes writer and wife of a cookbook author (Seth Rogen) who meets and falls for Daniel (Luke Kirby), the dark, sensual rickshaw driver she meets while out of town on a business trip. But this isn’t a long-distance affair. On the flight home, Daniel has the seat next to Margot. They share a cab, only to reveal that Daniel lives across the street. Bad screenwriting of that ilk follows.
Polley wants to, and occasionally does, set a heartbreaking mood as Margot fluctuates between what the heart wants and what her marriage deserves. But I couldn’t connect with “Waltz” because I found the Margot character to be detestable, and Polley’s tendency to lean on Young Adult, harlequin expressions of squeamish “passion” rang false. “You are infinitely hateable,” Margot says to Daniel, though she doesn’t believe in the statement.
I believed in the statement.
“Take This Waltz” does not have the maturity and composure of Polley’s first film, “Away From Her.” It lacks the depth of human understanding that helped that film resonate. Where others are seeing poetry and pain (perhaps due to feelings they bring to the table), I saw immaturity and idiocy (perhaps because of what I might bring to the table). I also saw the first misfire of this year’s TIFF.
On to the next film.
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