Everything about this trailer for Take This Waltz (Magnolia, 6.29) persuades that Sarah Polley‘s film is a stand-out — a perceptive, intelligent romantic drama for youngish adults. The narration is especially fine. I caught this in Toronto last September. I was okay with it. I respected it. Why didn’t I really like it? Because a couple of aspects didn’t feel quite right.
The basic shot is that Michelle Williams, married to a highly subdued (i.e., muffled) Seth Rogen, falls in love with a cute guy who lives across the street (Luke Kirby). It’s obvious that Williams is bored with Rogen from the start, and that she could do better. But the main fact is that we’re a little bored by Rogen when he can’t be Rogen. The bottom line is that he’s stuck playing a nice-guy sap who’s getting cheated on, and that’s not a lot of fun for him or us. I kept waiting for him to get all snarky and sarcastic and Rogen-y, but Polley didn’t want that.
The other oddity is that Kirby is a talented artist who makes ends meet by working as a rickshaw guy — he pulls people around in a two-wheeled cart like a coolie. It’s one thing for a hot wife to shag a hunky guy on the side, but women generally don’t tend to leave their husbands and give up hearth and home for rickshaw drivers. The world is chock full of bored, vaguely unsatisfied wives who stay with their vaguely boring, shlumpy, nice-guy husbands year after year because they’d rather not risk the unknown. Chemistry and hot hormones aren’t enough. Most women won’t take the leap unless the lover is financially secure and can offer them a better deal.
I was also slightly bothered by Kirby running around in gray cross-training shoes.
The conversational stand-out is a full-frontal nude shower scene featuring Williams and costar Sarah Silverman and some older women inaside a health club. It’s not erotic. It’s just plain and matter-of-fact. The kind of thing that a male director would be hesitant to shoot for fear of being called an ogler.