I usually love the kinds of movies that Magnolia Pictures releases, and I also appreciate their strategy of often making their films available in video on demand format at the same time (or often before) they’re available in theaters. But in the case of Take This Waltz, their VoD strategy was kind of frustrating because it was available to watch online for at least a month before it came to a local theater, and it was hard for me to wait to see it in the theater with everyone raving about how good it is. But fortunately the film lives up to all the hype.
Lou and Margot (Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams) are completely in love. They can’t keep their hands off each other, and their marriage is clearly still in the honeymoon phase, despite being several years in. Both are aspiring writers, with Lou working on a cookbook of chicken recipes and Margot wanting to write a novel but taking whatever jobs she can get in the meantime. Most recently, this includes creating a new informational pamphlet for a historic village, and while she’s visiting that village she meets and starts flirting with Daniel (Luke Kirby). It’s all harmless fun since she’ll never see him again, except that when she gets on the plane to fly back home she finds herself in the seat next to his. And when they share a cab from the airport, they discover they live almost right across the street from each other.
All of a sudden, Margot’s perfect marriage starts to seem a little less perfect. Eating chicken all the time seems kind of tiresome, and Lou doesn’t always make himself immediately available at her beckon call. While she adores Lou’s niece Tony (Vanessa Coelho) and loves Tony’s mom Geraldine (Sarah Silverman), Geraldine is a recovering alcoholic with a history of unpleasantness, and the rest of Lou’s family can occasionally be grating. Meanwhile, Margot finds it nearly impossible to avoid running into Daniel, and soon those encounters are frequently not accidental.
Take This Waltz gives us another great performance from Michelle Williams, but this time it’s in a movie that is more worthy of her talents than the disappointing Shutter Island, Meek’s Cutoff, or My Week with Marilyn, and a lot less depressing than Blue Valentine. Similarly, Seth Rogen follows a great dramatic role in 50/50 with another serious film with more refined (but still funny) comedy. I haven’t seen much of Luke Kirby’s work (perhaps only Halloween: Resurrection) to use as a basis for comparison, but he does well in this role and there’s a definite chemistry between him and Williams that makes the story believable and keeps it moving.
It’s unfortunate that this received such a short theatrical run, but hopefully that means it’ll be available to rent or buy soon. It’s definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.