Lately, there have been some very interesting female characters appearing in movies. These characters are young-- they are in their twenties-- and the stories that spotlight them deal with issues involving romance and commitment.
For example, take a new film titled TAKE THIS WALTZ, which is directed by Sarah Polley. TAKE THIS WALTZ is the story of Margot, played by Michelle Williams, who is married to a truly nice guy: a man who is decent and affectionate, and who dearly loves her. So what will happens when Margot finds herself unexpectedly attracted to, and pulled toward, another man? Will she remain loyal to her mate? Does she at least owe him that? For after all, he has done nothing that would cause her to spurn him. Or, will she go with her feelings and desires, and pursue this other man?
Other questions that arise are: Why does Margot have these feelings? Is it that she married too young? Is it that she is not completely formed, and is not yet ready to commit to one person for life? Or to take this even further, is it possible to love more than one person?
These are questions that are provocative, and that have no simple answers. For after all, you can fall in love and get married, and have expectations about that marriage. Then one day, you wake up and realize that the love you have for your mate is not of the “forever after” variety. That is because feelings change. People change. That is life.
TAKE THIS WALTZ also is noteworthy for the presence of two actors who are most associated with comedy, but who offer dramatic performances. The first is a slimmed-down Seth Rogen, who plays Margot’s husband. Then there is Sarah Silverman, who is cast as Rogen’s sister, a woman who has had alcohol issues.
But the key to this film is that it is not a story of villains and victims. It is an exploration of emotional conflict and, in this regard, TAKE THIS WALTZ easily might have been a trite soaper. But it is not, and that is because Polley, who also scripted, has created characters who are refreshingly three-dimensional. She strips away their layers, showing them to be flawed souls who are all-to-human.
Rob Edelman teaches film history at the University at Albany. He has written several books on film and television, and is an associate editor of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide.
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