M. and I went to see Take This Waltz, a story about a young married Toronto woman who has a romance, more emotional than physical, with her neighbour. I can’t exactly decide if I liked the movie: Pro, it was directed by the wonderful Sarah Polley, who starred in one of the most incredible movies of all time, The Sweet Hereafter, and learned from a master about the importance of visual style. Con, it features Michelle Williams in her most cutesy, pixie-hipsterish, tic-addled Michelle Williams-ness. Ugh. It makes it very hard to have sympathy for her, as the centre of this love triangle.
And maybe that’s the point. Although Polley shoots Williams all doe-eyed and lip-biting, in the end, you realise how foolish she’s been, how little she understands her wants. She walks out on her husband, Seth Rogen, who seems to have going for him only that he is a cookbook author capable of preparing chicken a zillion ways and an authentically Canadian pronounciation of sore-ee. She wants to feel all shaky and fluttery inside, emotions churning as if they’ve been shaken by a darkened amusement-park ride. She thinks that’s what her neighbour, an artist-cum-rickshaw driver does for her. (“I think he’s only has that job so that Michelle Williams can get all hot watching his sweaty muscles as he runs,” M. accurately noted.)
But in the end, it may be more that she’s move in love with falling in love than with love itself. She fetishes infatuation but stumbles in nurturing long-term, mature, sometimes messy relationships. Indeed, it’s not even clear if she tries much at the latter — yes, she bakes muffins and love-talks in a little-girl voice, but, hell, she pees in front of both her husband and her new lover. (Once when I had food poisoning, I passed out from vomiting too violently rather than let my boyfriend in the bathroom, so you can imagine my stance in this matter.) Still, while we can’t all be so insufferably cute, probably many of us are more Michelle Wiliams than we’d care to admit — for evidence that we don’t excel at the long-term, only look at the divorce rates in the U.S. (and Canada). When the lights come up and the infatuation dims, how good are any of us at finding the romance in chicken every night?