Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Last Waltz

Last night I went to see Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan. It's a beautiful movie, like I've come to expect from writer/director Sarah Polley.
I went alone. My husband generally likes comedies or action – not such a fan of "real-life" stuff. And I didn't trust myself to go with a friend.
Why? The storyline follows a twenty-something married woman who meets a man and falls head over heels. Of course, it's not as simple as that – Polley is gifted at giving us the complications of life and of people. What appears to be a case of a stale marriage, an exciting, attentive new man, and the pain of leaving the old for the new is really a hard look at long-term relationships, compromise, loyalty and love.
The woman, toward the end, comes to perhaps not outright regret leaving her husband but certainly revisit her decision in light of what she's come to know, which is that all relationships become...comfortable. All relationships require compromise. Or, put simply, people let us down. Life lets us down.
It can be hard to watch this stuff sometimes, which is why I went alone. I'm never sure what's going to trigger me and launch tears. I occasionally seek out opportunities to revisit that still-scared place in my heart, to remind myself that nothing is guaranteed and that pain is as much a part of living as joy. Maybe even a bigger part.
I didn't cry, except from laughter. (There's a pool scene that aroused my childish sense of humor. And the cutesy names and goofy behavior of the married couple is humorous as much as uncomfortable. I suspect a few of us will recognize ourselves in their "universe-of-two" actions.) But, a day later, I'm still thinking about the characters and their stories.
And that's I think the best that can be said about any movie. It has me wondering about life in general and my own in particular. It reminded me that things aren't always what they seem. And it confirmed that our stories, our messy, mistake-ridden stories, don't always have a clear villain or hero. Those of us expecting a waltz are likely to be disappointed.


  1. I watched this yesterday, by myself. It's really a very good movie.

    I had to stop halfway through because I was crying almost as much as I did in the first weeks after finding out about my husband's affair. It was the scene when they finally kiss. I suddenly realized: My husband's first kiss with the OW was so much more than a kiss. I know a little about that first kiss, how it came about (because I made him tell me), but somehow I never thought about the fact that it's always more than just a kiss.

    So I turned off the movie and left the room and cried and cried.

    Then I made myself go back and watch the rest of the movie. I had a feeling it would help to see how the new relationship developed. And it did.

    That night I talked to my husband about it. I said that I understand that when you're attracted to someone outside your marriage, it's easy to focus on the small, everyday faults in your marriage and start seeing them as big problems. And it's easy to see the person you're attracted to as the antidote to those problems, as someone who doesn't ignore you like your spouse is doing (or whatever it is that you think is wrong in your marriage). That's what I see the woman in this movie doing, and I know that's what my husband did -- he has told me this from the beginning. But I asked, is that all it was? Does he think maybe there were never BIG problems, just those little everyday issues, along with communication gaps and our lack of acknowledgement and lack of TRYING?

    We had a good talk and essentially agreed. We had some problems, but they were things we could have worked on simply by acknowledging them and facing them. Much like the couple in the movie.

    And of course there's the main theme in the movie, which my husband and I also discussed: What's new seems exciting, but it becomes old, just like your current relationship. The shower scene at the gym brought up that topic, and it comes up again at the end, in the new relationship that is becoming old (i.e. comfortable), as all relationships do.

    So there's a great moral there, and one we can learn from after an affair: Marriages get comfortable, but it's a mistake to see them as flawed simply because of that fact. Hopefully we can learn to (1) understand that fact and embrace it (comfortable isn't bad, after all) and (2) work to keep things interesting and sometimes exciting, alongside all that comfort.

    1. Mountainsailing,

      It was a good movie, wasn't it? One of those that stays with you for days.




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