Greetings again from the darkness. We have watched Sarah Polley grow up on screen. She began as a 6 year old child actress and evolved into an indie film favorite. Now, she is finding her true voice as a film director … and what a unique voice it is. In Away from Her (2009), she told the heartbreaking story of a husband’s struggle with losing his beloved wife to Alzheimer’s Disease. Now we get the story of Margot, who just can’t seem to find happiness or fulfillment within the stability of marriage.
Margot is played exceedingly well by Michelle Williams. I would say that without the casting of Ms. Williams, this film would probably not have worked. There is something about her that prevents us from turning on her character when she veers from her loyal, if a bit lacking in passion, husband Lou (played by Seth Rogen). Williams and Rogen have the little things that a marriage needs … a language until itself and the comfort of consistency. What Margot misses is the magic. She thinks she finds that in her neighbor Daniel, a rickshaw driver played by Luke Kirby. Daniel is the type that every guy inherently knows not to trust, yet women somehow fall for. He is a subtle and slow seducer. The kind that makes it seem like everything is innocent … right up until it isn’t.
Margot has that most annoying of spousal traits: she expects everyday to be like a trip to Disneyland. The best scene in the movie occurs when Lou’s sister (a terrific Sarah Silverman) confronts Margot and tells her that life has a gap and that you will go crazy trying to fill it. It’s a wonderfully insightful line from writer/director Polley. Of course, we understand that this is Margot’s nature and she learns that sometimes broken things can’t be fixed.
Another great scene occurs in the women’s locker room after water aerobics. There is a juxtaposition between generations of older women and younger ones. We see the differences not only in physical bodies, but in the wisdom that comes with age. More brilliance from the script. The one scene that I thought crossed the line was the “martini” scene. I found it tasteless, vulgar and far more extreme than what was called for at the time. But that’s a small complaint for an otherwise stellar script.
As terrific as Ms. Williams and Ms. Silverman are, I found Seth Rogen to be miscast and quite unbelievable as a dedicated cookbook-writing guy who has pretty simple, yet quietly deep thoughts about how a marriage should work. Again, this didn’t ruin the film for me, but I did find him distracting and quite an odd choice.
It’s filmmakers like Sarah Polley that keep the movie business evolving. Her viewpoint and thoughts are unique and inspirational, and should lead to a long career as a meaningful writer/director. Oh, and the use of Leonard Cohen‘s “Take this Waltz” song fit right in over the credits.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are a fan of intimate indie films OR you want to follow the career build of Sarah Polley
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you prefer light-hearted Rom-Coms to thought-provoking relationship insights
watch the trailer:
The “gap” line rang a bell and took 30 minutes out of my life. It’s a line Cate Blanchette uses in Notes on a Scandal. About the gap between the life you dream about and the life you have.
Bruce – the theory is the same in both movies, but ‘Scandal’ was more about the creepy Judi Dench and the lust from Cate, while this one is strictly about reactions within a “normal” marriage. Great catch.
And the wife in both marriages “strayed”.
I didn’t make my point very well in last comment. While both wives strayed, Cate’s was pure lust, while Michelle’s was really more of a philosophical disappointment with the daily realities of a marriage. In movies, we see the lust factor come into play quite frequently, while the “institutional” realities tend to be ignored. It’s a line of division that makes sense in my head, but I don’t seem to be able to verbalize very effectively.