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Take This Waltz (2011)
July 5, 2012, 5:59 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

 Director: Sarah Polley

In Take This Waltz – the sophomore directorial effort from Canadian actress Sarah Polley, whose Away from Her was one of the most striking narrative debuts in some time – Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby play a couple of thirty-somethings who have an innocent meet cute in Nova Scotia, only to discover that they’re really neighbors in Toronto wherein Williams lives with her loving husband, played by Seth Rogen. Whereas Polley’s adaptation of an Alice Munro short story showed a remarkable maturity in the way that she depicted a 44-year-old marriage, the emotional truths in her second feature are scarcer to come by, surfacing mostly in the final thirty minutes of a picture otherwise overcome with artifice. The greatest disappointment is that it often feels like a debut feature, rife with needless montages and sometimes cringe-worthy dialogue (Williams’ character explains early on that she’s afraid of connecting flights, as an example). Kirby, handsome and serviceable to the plot but nothing more, helps revolutionize the manic pixie dream boy – a rickshaw-driving artist who playfully teases women during Colonial re-enactments. For the falsity of the details, it’s an easy picture to hate in the early-goings, though Polley often finds momentary redemption with quiet observations similar to the ones that made her first feature so terrific. Williams and Rogen speak almost exclusively in a sort of violent baby talk, and one is never quite sure whether this means that their connection maintains its youthful flirtatiousness, or that they’ve simply lost sight of what it means to communicate. The end, which questions whether Williams has made the right choice and, even if she did, whether it will matter in the end, is enormously satisfying, but it doesn’t entirely overcome Polley’s otherwise disappointing reliance on affectation.

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Away from Her (2006)
May 27, 2011, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sarah Polley

Adapting Alice Munro’s short story from the New Yorker entitled The Bear Came Over the Mountain, Sarah Polley’s Away from Her largely distances itself from Grant’s guilted history of affairs and instead focuses on the dignity of Fiona and the mutual acceptance of two lovers with an uncertain future. What separates this material from movie-of-the-week melodrama – which the topic of Alzheimer’s so threatens to become – is Polley’s avoidance of simply demonizing the disease. Fiona handles her mental deterioration with tremendous bravery, and Grant, rather than becoming angry, continues to passively love his wife with a supportive adherance to her every wish. With a female director, the film also contains a refreshingly progressive depiction of marriage – though Grant’s husbandly devotion is idealized, Fiona takes on the dual role of wife and mother, gracefully guiding Grant on his path to acceptance.