Sometimes, a film can be so beautiful, from the cinematography to the score and script, yet have a character that is so horrendous that he or she overshadows the rest of the film. Such is the case with Take This Waltz.
A post-viewing discussion with a fellow film-bore brought up the word “frustrating”, which is the best description of the film. To be fair to Michelle Williams, she was given an awful character to play and did it very well, but she did it too well. When the protagonist is so inherently unlikeable it can become a problem with the audience. There’s a fine line between having an unlikeable character ruin a brilliant film and pulling it off. Unfortunately, Margot has ruined the film. Despite there being some lovely moments, including one scene where Daniel follows Margot to a swimming pool and they indulge in some synchronised swimming, such was the level of dislike felt towards Margot by this reviewer, that the film couldn’t recover and it left a bitter taste.
Thankfully, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman were on hand to keep the film from sinking much lower. Often comedians do very well in parts that require no comedy, and it’s nice to see these two aren’t exceptions. Rogen is actually likable for once and Silverman quickly becomes one of the best things about the film.
Despite character issues, the film manages to hold itself up as an honest and intimate look at marriage. Small scenes showing Lou and Margot’s interaction with each other, including one heartbreaking moment towards the end, show in intimate detail the relationship between husband and wife. It’s hard not to love them as a couple, which makes it all the more awful to watch the changes in their relationship as the film progresses. Here, director Sarah Polley has done a wonderful job; even the tiniest interaction between Daniel and Margot has a lasting effect on the viewer. One scene involving a fairground ride and The Buggles is a nail-biter when you consider the consequences of what might happen.
It’s a shame Margot is so awful as the film could be brilliant but a lot of the good is erased by her existence. Integral to the film she may be, but she could have done with being a bit less irritating. As said before, a protagonist who is supposed to be disliked must be played with care. On the other hand, the performances are excellent from the three principal characters and Silverman, but nothing manages to surface from the flood of horror brought on by Margot. It’s not just her actions, it’s her personality too, and with that the film is doomed.
The blu-ray features a behind the scenes look at the making of the film with some interesting interviews from the cast but that’s it, other than the trailer.
That This Waltz is out on DVD & Blu-ray 7th January 2013.
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Stars: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman
Runtime: 116 min
Country: Canada, Spain, Japan