–Spoilers ahead- watch the film first!–
A: On Tuesday Lisa and I went to see Take This Waltz. She’s come down from Sydney for a few weeks and it was so lovely to be able to catch up and see this film together. Sometimes I feel like who you see a film with can make a huge difference to how much you like it. I hate seeing a film with someone and you can just tell that they hate it or they want to go to sleep. But I had a feeling that both me and Lisa would adore this film and I was right.
This film hit me hard. It was beautiful and lyrical but also felt intensely personal and intimate. It’s the kind of film that sticks around. I haven’t felt such a connection with a film since Young Adult. I almost didn’t want to read other reviews on it because I didn’t feel the need to know anyone elses opinion on it. But I did a quick google before I started writing this and was shocked at the two words that kept being repeated.. immature and frustrating! That was the opposite of my experience! Does that mean I’m Immature and Frustrating?
The New Yorker says ‘The underlying theme is that, though everyone is beautiful, some are more beautiful than others—stick with your own kind, because nature (physical nature) will triumph, and you’ll always be in competition with the people who resemble Michelle Williams, who will have their choice. ‘ …… WHAT?? This is not what I got from the film at all. Either the person that wrote this is a little bitter and jaded.. or I’m incredibly naive and really didn’t understand what I was watching.
What do you think Lisa? Did you get any of this from the film at all?
L: Anna, I am very surprised to hear this take as I didn’t get this from the film at all. In fact I thought the film was saying the exact opposite. Are we sure this reviewer actually watched the film because I think the only way you could come to this conclusion is if you stopped watching three quarters of the way through.
I loved the way this beautiful and haunting film captured the dark truth about searching for happiness in a relationship. Too often in life we think we will only be happy if we just buy those new clothes, get that new guy or go to that great new restaurant, we put the answer to our happiness outside ourselves and by doing so we are permanently restless. Which is exactly how Margot feels. She is, by Daniel’s description, eternally restless. She is looking for a man to end this restlessness and when she falls for Daniel she thinks she has found the answer. But the answer alludes her.
In fact in a complete contradiction to ‘The New Yorker’ review I believe that the message of this film is that relationships are not about looks, or even sexual attraction because all that fades. Relationships are about being there for each other and about recognising that no other person can make you happy, you have to do that for yourself.
I also really loved the way this film brought to life the patterns we have in relationships, what do you think about this Anna?
A: In her marriage to Lou it was like they had their own language. You could tell that everything had been discussed already, every in-joke had been made. It was great to watch a genuine portrayal of this degree of intimacy, although the baby talk was slightly nauseating. The frequency of the ‘I love yous’ as their relationship starting breaking down was also very honest. It was great to see her then try and repeat these things to Daniel at the end. She sits on the toilet in front of him, Lou kissed when she did this but Daniel just walks out of the bathroom. She says ‘I Wuv you’ to Daniel and he looks at her like she’s mad. When she goes back to visit Lou their language is basically gone. They talk like two serious adults. ‘Some things you do stick’ he says to her when she wonders about the chance of reconciliation. I found that heartbreaking. Their relationship was like a world. It seemed so solid and impenetrable, when watching the film I didn’t think their was any way that could end. But it does. It’s gone and there’s no going back.
Something I didn’t really think about until after, is that Margot doesn’t really have her own friends. The only person that is her friend alone is Daniel. Everyone else that she spends time with is part of Lou’s family, and you never hear any mention of her family. Do you have any ideas about why this is?
L: I think this is because Margot is the kind of person who wants to be consumed into a relationship. She believes the relationship holds the answers to all her problems and as such I imagine she ditches her own friends for whoever the man of the moment is. I think having friends of her own would encourage her to find her own identity and I think that is the thing she is desperate not to do. She won’t write, she won’t pursue her own interests, in fact she spends the entire film either chasing or running from Daniel or trying to rekindle the love with her husband, which to be honest she does mostly by whining and following him around.
I think Margot is afraid of who she might find if she tries to simply be with herself. In fact I think that’s what’s happening with her relationship with Lou, he has his own thing, his book and their relationship is comfortable and intimate and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. And since she is desperate not to get to know herself, she turns to Daniel to start the journey all over again. The problem is that at the end of that journey, she has less than she had with Lou because their comfortable little world worked for her and when she transparently tries to recreate it with Daniel, it’s clear that she has lost something she loved.
I think this film really does a great job in examining the value of romance. In a world where most films hold up romance as identical to love, this film shows us the difference and says romance might be the new and shining thing that gets a relationship started but love is the old and steady thing that keeps it going. I think perhaps the best line in this film, is when Margot and Lou’s sisters are discussing their boredom with there husbands in the pool shower and one Margot’s sister in laws is saying how sometimes she would just like something new. Then an naked old lady turns in the shower opposite and says ‘New things get old’, a line which I think epitomizes the message of the entire film.
A: I liked that line too. Although I think it might have been a bit of overkill to have that line against the younger naked ladies and the older naked ladies in the shower. The image kind of showed the message anyway and both at the same time felt a little preachy to me.
I like your point about her relationship with Lou giving her the perfect platform to actually be herself and persue her own goals and that’s why she went running. Really she was terrified of having to face herself.
The last shot of the film is her sitting on the theme park ride alone. Earlier in the film she sits on it with Daniel, which is a great scene, filled with so much fun and tension. I wasn’t sure what this last shot was meant to mean. Is she finally okay with spending time alone? Or is it meant to be about the cyclic way relationships work. No matter who she’s with she’ll always be by herself to some degree after the romance wears off?
L: Actually you are probably right, the scene itself is pretty heavy handed. Then again, I am a fan of cheese so I’m less sensitive to a heavy hand. I think the preachy element may have occurred due to the filmmakers need to tell the audience her own feelings about the story.
I think you are right about the scene on theme park ride it’s about her always being alone no matter how many distractions she finds to hide behind. The ride in and of itself is another distraction. I think the ride is a great representation of her restlessness, the cycle that she is stuck in.
Well I think I am going to sign off. This film really does stick with you and has so many insightful messages about the patterns and cycles in relationships. It is a great insight into the lengths people with go to run from themselves and makes a powerful comment about the illusions of romance. Any last thoughts Anna?
A: I guess the most important line in the film is ‘Life has a gap in it, it just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it.’ A bit depressing, but very true.
Definitely in my top ten for 2012.