The best thing about Take This Waltz—writer/director Sarah Polley's devastating study of marriage, desire, and the war between marriage and desire—is the way it moves through time. A lot of directors get stuck when moving the narrative forward by a matter of weeks or even days. In film, it's almost easier to skip decades or centuries than it is to skip a few seasons. But Waltz spans a year or so in the relationship of a young married couple named Lou and Margot (Seth Rogen is the affable husband, Michelle Williams is the sensitive wife) as Margot develops a crush on Daniel (Luke Kirby), the artist who lives across the street. In a recent phone interview, Polley says Waltz is about "what you do with the passage of time," and in her hands, the passage of time appears to be an effortless thing.
Waltz challenges its viewers by testing their patience. Polley employs tweeness as a tool; Williams and Rogen are the kind of young, hip couple that make imaginative jokes out of everything, like an improv class attended by precocious children. Their home decor—thrift finds and kitschy magnets all over the refrigerator—feels more precious than functional. And when Margot meets Daniel, she tells him she hates airports because she's—gag—"afraid of connections."
Polley isn't herself a twee or precious director; she just happens to be making a film about people who occasionally behave in twee and precious ways. Polley admits, "I wanted at the outset to feel like we were entering into an almost cliché rom-com." When she watches Waltz with an audience now, "I'm almost cringing for the first 25 minutes. I don't completely begrudge anyone for not liking the way it begins—I hope that people get by the end that I'm not that dumb..."