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Director Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz was featured in the TFF 2012 Spotlight section alongside features from other strong female actresses turned directors, including Julie Delpy and Maïwenn. As one of the rare actors who can seamlessly move behind the camera, Sarah Polley enjoyed a highly successful directorial debut with her film Away From Her, an international and critical hit. It garnered an Oscar nomination for Polley’s leading lady, Julie Christie, as well as one for Polley herself in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Take This Waltz is a worthy follow-up project.
At the memorable Q&A at TFF 2012, Geoff Gilmore, Chief Operating Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, introduced Take This Waltz enthusiastically: “It’s a wonderful film by a very talented, talented filmmaker. I met Sarah Polley a number of years ago when she was a young actress. I’m so blown away by the sophistication that she brings to her work.” Gilmore went on, “It’s the kind of sophistication that not only do you rarely get from actors when they turn their hand to direction, but that you almost can never possibly imagine from someone so young.” The remarkable Polley was unable to attend the Tribeca premiere because of the birth of her first child, but producer Susan Caven and stars Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman were in attendance to lend their support for the project.
The relationship drama centers around Margot (a beguiling Williams), a seemingly happily married woman, whose relationship with her husband Lou (Seth Rogen) has become routine. When Daniel (Kirby), a sexy aspiring artist, moves in across the street, Margot, reluctant at first, falls heads over heels in love with him, a feeling he willingly reciprocates. Margot must choose between the comforting familiar and the enticing unknown. She weighs the dependency of Lou’s recovering addict sister (Silverman) and her own crippling insecurities as she agonizes over her decision.
The crowd erupted in applause after the film’s credits rolled and grew louder once Williams, Kirby, Silverman and Caven took the stage for the 15 minute Q&A. When asked by an audience member what inspired the film, Caven spoke for Polley: “I don’t know if it’s any specific incident, but it’s more of an observation and an interest in her life and thinking about how we are always trying to find a quick resolution to our problems. Sarah applied that thought to what happens to long term relationships over time and how we, as humans, tend to look for the easy fix.”
One member of the audience praised the film for its honesty and also complimented Kirby, one of the film’s two leading men, on his screen presence. Silverman jumped in quickly: “Isn’t he so sexy? He looks like a young John Slattery!”
When asked what the film meant to her, Silverman replied: “It’s people trying to find happiness through external things. To paraphrase my therapist, ‘You don’t get what you want; you get what you think you deserve.’ The point is that change has to come internally.”
Another audience member asked if the cast was surprised by anything in the final cut of the film. Williams was the first to respond: “When you’re making a movie, you never really know what your director is up to, in a way. You don’t know the feeling or the pacing of the story. It is always surprising for me to see the work that had been invisible as the director’s completed vision.” Kirby added, “What surprised me was that I thought we were making a movie about two people falling in love, and I had forgotten about this other guy.” Silverman cracked: “Luke only read his part!”
After the laughter from the audience died down, Kirby completed his thought: “The film almost has this fable-like quality. While we were making the film, it felt very grounded because that’s what it had to be, but there was some magic in there that I didn’t see until it was stitched together.”
Finally, the audience wanted to know what was it like to work with a director as refreshing and young as Sarah Polley. Silverman responded: “I think in movies that the vibe on set always trickles down from the director. She wrote the script, so she had this very precise vision and knew how to get what she wanted, but was always a delight.” She added: “Sarah had this crew around her who knew her since she was a kid, and it was such a special experience to work with everybody. It was exciting to try and be this cog in her plan.”
Take This Waltz hits theaters in limited release this Friday, June 29. Not in a theater near you? The film is currently available on demand and in other outlets.
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