"Leave this waltz well alone."
by Andy MOSELEY on 21/08/12

Take This Waltz is a film that has critics falling over themselves to shower with praise. It does not deserve it.

The storyline revolves around Margot, a 28 year-old who has found married life moving from an ideal to a mundane reality. She meets an artist, tries her hardest to avoid the attraction of him and his lifestyle, but inevitably, starts an affair, leaves her husband, and finds her new life becomes equally as humdrum.

In depicting Margot and husband Lou's life, with a fairly devastating level of accuracy you get some scenes which will bore the audience as much as the marriage bores Margot, but that's only part of the problem. Next up are the cliched choices taken by writer and director Sarah Polley. Daniel, the love interest, has to be an artist, just to underline that his is a bohemian lifestyle, both in itself and in comparison to Lou. There is no substance to support this, and what we see of Daniel never suggests he is the great bohemian. It may be intentional, but it leaves us asking why did Margot fall for him.

Whilst Daniel has to be an artist, there is no reason why Margot has to be a freelance journalist. It is the sign of an idle screenwriter who could not be bothered to create a real identity for their character. Likewise, Lou is not merely a cook, he is a cook writing a book about what you can do with a chicken. Polley may be saying that no matter what your job is, your relationships go the same way, but there are other 'exciting' jobs that could illustrate that point.

The idleness carries through to the rest of the script. The lack of deep discussions about what is wrong with the marriage is convincing at first, but when Margot finally decides to leave Lou, all we see is the word 'Lou' that begins the conversation. Her post Lou time is reduced to a montage of images running from bohemia to boredom over a Leonard Cohen song, that prevents any showing of feelings as her second relationship morphs into the first. Any chance to give depth to the characters is lost and you wonder if previous silences were there because Polley couldn't be bothered to write difficult conversations, rather than because she was showing the reality of the marriage.

The closing scenes are funny and touching, but feel like they have been tacked on to bring out the theme of the film, rather than because the event that triggers them has really earned its place through the rest of the script.

What would be treated by critics as lack of convincing characters and an underdeveloped storyline in a major movie, is seen as lightly drawn and refreshingly honest in their reviews of this film. Don't be fooled. As someone who has always preferred independent movies to blockbusters, this film is a disappointment.

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