The talents of actor-turned-director (and scribe) Sarah Polley (Splice) are evident in this smoothly deliberate if pretentious drama.
Take This Waltz stars Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, and Sarah Silverman, and has a moving, if gloomy quality like her excellent, eloquent debut which featured an acclaimed performance by Julie Christie, Away From Her. If it seems a little forecasted, it still plays out with honest, emotional intimacy, through Williams's freelance writer, Margot. An exploration of a stagnant marriage is what concerns the fine, finicky filmmaker to address feelings and issues, maybe not always in ways that are expected or recognized.
Things are seemingly well between Margot and Rogen's cookbook fabricator, Lou. To her, what's between them isn't right as the way they keeps a certain levity can only go so far. Their professions don't appear to allow for a healthy union. So, in Polley's fairly observant script, a little happenstance with neighbor Daniel (Kirby of The Samaritan) leads Margot to think about risking what has become a rut. There's something about Daniel, including a fresh candor than what her marriage seems to offer, at least at the present.
Rogen (very good in 50/50 opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt) offers more of a subdued performance than usual, though with enough bonhomie, while Williams definitely is a fulcrum from a moralistic standpoint, a chameleon in Margot's moods to deliver something oddly soulful from the possibilities around her. Even if there is something misleading and confusing in what triggers her decision making. Kirby etches an alluring, if arcane presence, and Sarah Silverman has a more serious supporting role (than usual) as Lou's recovering alcoholic, acerbic sister Geraldine, especially having impact in the film's latter passages.
Waiting for Margot to coalesce what is rather overpowering for her may be a kind of endurance test (even for many art house cineastes), but through Polley's natural, nuanced approach it resonates even before the ending which some might agree could have been excised or trimmed. A Leonard Cohen tune eponymous lets one into what Williams (whose Blue Valentine dutiful nurse Cindy went through a kind of tough-love therapy) often distills with dexterity to thematic, even metaphorical effect as Margot's connection to the men in her life (not given equal weight narratively) is like a dance routine. If there isn't the deft poignancy in the end, what has led up to it still can be lofty (even from a swirling carnival ride) and interpretatively rewarding through the way people see themselves and others who may be able to give them what they desire most.