The human capacity for being in love with more than one person at a time is at the heart of writer-director Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams as a woman so inflicted – and, naturally, conflicted.
Williams plays a freelance writer named Margot who meets a handsome charmer, Daniel (Luke Kirby), while on assignment. Sharing a cab from the airport, they discover they live on the same street in a colorful, bohemian Toronto neighborhood. Margot’s husband, Lou (Seth Rogan, whose performance succeeds outside the confines of his raunchy comedy persona) also writes – about food and, specifically, chicken recipes for a pending cookbook.
Five years into their marriage, they’re childless and still comfortable being silly with each other. But there are tiny, barely perceptible rifts, exemplified by how Margot visibly cringes when his touches might signal sex. And the situation isn’t helped by the gooey crush Margot has on her neighbor, who’s free-spirited and emotionally improvisational where Lou is stressed and rigidly predictable. The feelings are mutual and both Daniel and Margot take risks that make viewers nervous but fly right over her clueless husband’s head.
Away From Her, Polley’s previous credit as a director, brought painful insights into Alzheimer’s disease, with Julie Christie’s performance as woman falling under its sway winning an Oscar nomination. Take This Waltz is painful in other ways, at times so intimate you’ll feel you’re peeking into Margot’s and Lou’s kitchen window (which conveniently faces the street). Polley’s script is smart and complicated and the acting is uniformly winning, particularly that of Williams, who skates effortlessly between behaving like an adolescent and a vixen, and comedian Sarah Silverman, who affectingly plays Lou’s alcoholic sister, who both has and is a car wreck.