Thursday, August 2, 2012

Take This Waltz (Rhoades)

“Take This Waltz”
Is a Fascinating Dance
With Michelle Williams

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Okay, when are we going to give an Oscar to Michelle Williams? Having watched her morph into a vulnerable, believable picture-perfect Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” you’ll have to shake your head to clear out the image as you see her transform into a restless Toronto housewife torn between her cookbook writer husband and the sexy guy across the street who runs a rickshaw business in “Take This Waltz.”
From glamour girl to girl in need of glamour, Michelle Williams effortlessly spans the gap – underscoring her other memorable performances in “Blue Valentine,” “Brokeback Mountain,” or “Meek’s Cutoff.”
These tour de force performances are enough to make you forget that she started out on TV’s “Dawson’s Creek.”
As one magazine writer put it, “I feel it’s difficult for an actor to make people forget that they were ever part of a popular show like ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ Yet, you did.”
Michelle Williams: [Smiles] “Thanks.”
She’s a three-time Academy Award nominee, having proved her mettle as a real-deal actress rather than being remembered as a teenybopper heartthrob.
Even so, Williams says she often dreams of quitting acting. “I wasn’t sure if acting was the right place for me,” she said following the death of Heath Ledger (“Brokeback Mountain,” “The Dark Knight”), the father of her child, Matilda.
If her movie roles have one thing in common, it’s that William shows us “how women, even at their most fragile and vulnerable, can be brave and resilient.”
Writing about her, author Vendela Vida observed, “She is one of the few contemporary actresses whose face can communicate so much emotion, so much thought, even when she’s simply looking out a window. Whenever I see Williams in a role – any role – I’m reminded of the complexity of women’s lives, of all the many responsibilities and joys a single day can contain.”
You will encounter this complexity in “Take This Waltz,” the indie drama that’s now playing at the Tropic Cinema.
As directed by Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley, “Take This Waltz” is chockfull of relationship themes. It’s a sad little romance about a young woman (Williams) who begins to stray from her seemingly happy marriage to Lou (Seth Rogen, surprisingly good in this low-key dramatic role) after meeting her handsome neighbor (soulful Luke Kirby).
Lou is a cookbook writer who spends his days in the kitchen working on chicken recipes. Margot is a freelance writer who bumps into her neighbor in a meet-cute while on an assignment, only to discover he lives across the street. Too close to avoid temptation.
“I kind of thought of Margot as sleepwalking,” says Williams. “She’s a little sleepy. She could stay with her husband and have a perfectly decent life – but with this nagging feeling of, ‘Did I miss something?’”
Michelle Williams poses the questions as if examining her own life rather than this movie. “That feeling of restlessness. Is that what it feels like to be alive? Or is that what it feels like to be in the wrong relationship? And what do you do with this restlessness? Do you look outside of yourself? Or is it something that’s your own journey?”
Symbolic in the movie is a carnival ride called The Scrambler. That’s what happens to Margot’s life. We see her riding on The Scrambler while a sad version of “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles plays in the background.
“Sarah Polley and I share a feeling about that ride,” says Williams. “And we’ve talked a lot about why we are both so obsessed with The Scrambler. I went back to The Scrambler – I rode that thing all day long for an entire day. I went back a few weeks later on a weekend to ride The Scrambler again, because I wanted to feel that high. And whenever you can catch that feeling again, you feel like a kid, but with all of the gratitude and the knowingness of an adult. The combination of that is so exhilarating. And something like The Scrambler puts you right inside of that feeling – we’re both so inordinately nuts about that ride.”
The film’s other memorable song – “Take This Waltz” by legendary songwriter Leonard Cohen – gives us the title. Yes, it plays over the end credits, summarizing Margot/Michelle’s difficult life choices. As the song reminds us, “Oh my love, Oh my love / Take this waltz, take this waltz / It’s yours now. It’s all that there is.”

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