Romcom with a dose of hipster angst

With the Oscar-nominated 2006 feature film Away from Her, Canadian actress Sarah Polley made a career-changing transition from actress to critically-acclaimed writer-director – the only true kind of director, according to Quentin Tarantino. Behind the camera for the second time, Polley here confirms her interest in – and remarkable eye for – the paradoxical ways in which adults communicate. She has a knack for wonderfully absurd comments at critical moments and emphasising how her characters deal with the quiet desperation of everyday life. That was evident when an old man lost his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife to a mute invalid in Away from Her. And it is evident here.

On the face of it, things are going well for Margot (Williams), an attractive woman in her late 20s. Happily married to Lou, a dependable, good guy (Rogen at his best), they live in a bohemian Toronto neighbourhood. She’s a journalist, has some issues with her leg – and some with anxiety – but she lives with it. He writes cookbooks, his next one being exclusively about chicken (to mildly amusing effect). They tease each other, wrestle affectionately on the kitchen floor, make love. Only, for Margot the spontaneity has grown old, and there is less and less for them to say to each other. As she grows increasingly melancholic, Lou turns to his chickens.

On a business trip Margot meets Daniel (Kirby), a complex, charismatic charmer. Dark but gentle, he’s the classic threat to a dependable, good guy like Lou. When Daniel turns out to be single, interested and her neighbour, the situation seems a no-brainer for Margot. That is, if she had the courage to follow her instincts.

Sometimes love at first sight comes with a lot of false starts, moral twinges and emotional anguish. This atmospheric, bittersweet film takes a good hard look at what long-term relationships do to love, sex, and our self-image. Gorgeously shot and skilfully acted, it should be respected for its candour (including visual) and for avoiding nine out of ten of the genre’s clichés.


Take This Waltz (11)
Dir: Sarah Polley, Can romance/drama, 2011, 116 mins Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman
Premieres August 16