Risky, Zesty

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.

Take This Waltz was shot in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada. And Toronto to some extent.

  • corey3rd

    What gets me about the trailer is that Seth and Luke have the same haircut and texture. Are we not supposed to tell them apart in long shots?

  • DavidF

    Nova Scotia? What are you talking about Jeff?

    It takes place in – and was VERY OBVIOUSLY filmed in Toronto. There must have been some vibe of recognition when you saw it at TIFF, no?

    Wells to DavidF: Yeah, it could have easily been Toronto, and was, partially, but here’s what the IMDB says:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1592281/locations

  • Gaydos

    Pretty much a rave review from VARIETY’s Justin Chang: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117946072/

  • DavidF

    Can I just add that it’s things like Jeff’s remark about the training shoes that keeps me coming back for more. (And I’m not just saying that because I almost bought grey/black trainers last week.)

  • Ray

    Looks TWEE. And Canadian.

    “What gets me about the trailer is that Seth and Luke have the same haircut and texture. Are we not supposed to tell them apart in long shots?”

    IMMEDIATELY struck me too. Svelte Rogen (who REALLY is thin as hell here) and Kirby look like brothers. Does that play into this movie at all?

    I’ve never cheated- ETHICS- but the few times I’ve been REMOTELY tempted were always with ex’s or women VERY different than who I was with.

    Who the hell cheats with someone who is the same as the person they’re with? STOOPID PEOPLE.

    “Most women won’t take the leap unless the lover is financially secure and can offer them a better deal.”

    I had two had three women in my long life cheat on me, both went for underemployed mouth-breathing bad-hair Lex types who were perfect for them when drunk which was sadly OFTEN.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Who the hell is Luke Kirby anyway? The Canadian Andrew Lincoln?

  • pchu

    The early scenes were shot in Nova Scotia but the majority of it was shot in Toronto.

    The movie is very uneven, I like the performances a lot but structurally it’s a mess. I think the point of the movie is a woman trying to find herself. She isn’t exactly in love with her husband, Kirby just presents an option for her and there is no guarantee that she will end up with him in the end.

  • a_loco

    I rather doubt there’s a whole lot of streetcar tracks in Louisburg

  • Glenn Kenny

    “Most women won’t take the leap unless the lover is financially secure and can offer them a better deal.”

    Or: “This movie would work better for me if the lead character were a conniving gold-digging bitch, as that would tend to validate my woman-hatred. Just telling it like it is, folks.”

    Sometimes I wonder if Jeff isn’t trying to become the Morton Downey Jr. of registered Democrats.

    Wells to Kenny: Are you even half-serious? Have you ever heard of the female nesting instinct? You know…the one that goes along with the male hunting instinct (i.e., bringing home mastodon meat)? If you run into a woman who doesn’t like to play it careful and safe, fine…but you’ve run into an exception, in my experience. Women don’t get married in order to taste existential freedom and wildness. They get married because they want children, a serious partnership and a semblance of stability. Are you going to sit there and tell me that women do generally tend to leave their husbands and give up hearth and home for rickshaw driver types? Are you going to sit there and tell me that the world isn’t 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? Give me a fucking break.

  • Jesse Crall

    Grey cross-trainers deliver substantial arch support, allowing for an active life style that manifests itself in a flat stomach and toned calf muscles. They do look pretty crappy, though…

    ALSO: Do Kramer and Newman have cameos as rickshaw dispatchers?

  • RoyBatty Returns

    It’s hard to debate Jeff without having seen the actual movie, but women respond to all kinds of triggers when it comes to who they are attracted to. Although in the case of those having affairs just the promise of more/different/better sex is sufficient.

    Also, it’s not like rickshaw driving has a long history in North America and I can see an artistic type who hasn’t yet broken through doing it as a “cool” temp job. In my life until now I’ve known several very artistically talented people who nevertheless paid the bills with mundane jobs and never/seldom with their art.

    At any rate, it would seem that the narration provides an explanation of sorts for why someone in stable & loving but lethargic relationship would still find herself cheating.

    But, if your worldview is that women cheat solely for monetary gain, yeah this might not be the movie for you.

  • Edward

    I might drive a screwdriver into my ears if I have to endure another pop tune montage. Make them stop, please.

  • dharth presley

    “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.”

    this has not been my experience at all – but i don’t live in los angeles. and i try not to generalize. stuff like this though – these seemingly seeping wounds in jeff’s psyche that open up at the weirdest times – are why i enjoy this site. let her rip, jeff

  • Gabe@ThePlaylist

    For the record, this rickshaw guy seems to be loaded. His place is pretty nice and middle class, and then later he gets a killer studio apartment upgrade. On a rickshaw dude salary? Dubious.

    And yes, there’s one particular shot where you’re not supposed to be able to tell the difference between the two dudes. It’s not that significant.

    I really liked this, but rickshaw dude was a TREMENDOUS goober. You meet a girl and you’re attracted to her, but she lives NEXT DOOR with her HUSBAND? Hell no. I’ve kicked some wasp nests in my time, but that is an absolute no-win situation. And he doesn’t even go for it, he just flirts from a distance, repeatedly and obnoxiously. If you’re going to set yourself on fire, go for full immolation, don’t just dance around the flame like an asshole.

  • JD

    Honestly Jeff, who cares what women “generally” do? Since when is a movie’s validity determined by its proximity to the most familiar reality? This movie is interesting precisely because it’s NOT about shallow, materialism-driven infidelity, it’s about a character who’s trying to fill a more substantial void in her life.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Maybe the world IS full of bored housewives. THAT’S why they don’t make movies about them, because, you know, it’s an old story. What YOU’RE saying is that you don’t buy a story about an exception.

    And incidentally, fuck you too.

  • Terry McCarty

    Liking the idea of Seth Rogen essentially playing Robert Mitchum in RYAN’S DAUGHTER.

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