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Film Review: Take This Waltz

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Hard Choices

 

Such fairness might be considered a hallmark of realism, but that’s realism as cinematic convention. Only at the movies can soft subjectivity, the kind that flirts with objectivity, be reconstituted as boxed experience. This scenario’s too charged to get away with that. You can already hear the heartbroken crying foul. The happily married may simply lament the inveterate indie clichés; the landmarks of Planet Movie that we’ve learnt to read as natural, though they be storytelling conventions like any other.

Will a movie like this one ever be punctuated by anything other than folksy, acoustic, soulful ditties? The soft pluck of the guitar is the leitmotif of the indie scene. Those filmmakers need to buy some new albums. We’d also thank them to train their editors not to overlay the dialogue from the second half of a scene over the first, so we hear the start of the line before the cut. Sure, it’s an artistic touch; it displaces the viewer somewhat, drawing their attention to tension in the conversation, but it’s also the kind of cut you never see in a studio picture, and with good reason. Oh, and please, we beg of you, no more intimate dramas where two characters sit on the step outside their house and come to a shared understanding.

Then there’s the surplus kook; the sense, in a handful of scenes, that the filmmaker’s trying too hard to be memorable on a budget. A café seduction, in which Kirby’s Daniel describes the sex between him and Margot, so they need not have it, is a nice idea but you can see the authorial flagging; the real world has slipped away. This is a conscious effort to avoid cliché, but it only serves to un-anchor the audience, edging them away from the story’s verisimilitude.

Nevertheless, Take This Waltz is brave enough to challenge its audience’s moral certainties, dragging them into a final act that, like Leonard Cohen’s title track, is both melancholy and moving. Real feeling wins out in the end, though the mechanics are sometimes more visible that one would like.

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Directed by: Sarah Polley

Country: Canada

Year: 2012

Running Time: 116 mins

Certificate: 15

Release: August 17th

 

 

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