Mini-Reviews: Take This Waltz & Friends with Kids
Take This Waltz
Sarah Polley’s sophomore film once again demonstrates her immense skill as a director. The story sounds conventional – unhappy wife contemplates an affair to fill a void in her life – but the script (also courtesy the multi-talented Polley) feels fresh, thanks to the strong characters and observant dialogue. The acting is uniformly excellent, with Michelle Williams turning in another stellar lead performance.
There are admittedly a few flaws in the script. Michelle Williams’ character is meant to be infantile in some aspects of her behaviour, and listening to her baby-talk is no less grating than hearing real life baby-talk. Additionally, there are a couple of scenes in which the visuals effectively convey something, and then the characters explicitly state the message anyway, making the scene forced.
While it may not hit the heights of Polley’s directorial debut, Away From Her, this is an engrossing film that is sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and cements Polley’s status as a director to watch.
Friends with Kids
This is essentially a very conventional, unimaginative rom-com dressed up as an edgy indie. The plot involves two long-term platonic friends (played by Adam Scott and writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt) who each wants a child without the hassles of marriage. So they decide to have sex, have a kid, then continue dating other people. Can you guess where this is going…?
After a reasonably fun opening, the plot sinks into predictable territory – when each lead begins dating someone new after the child is born, we know that it won’t last. The only enjoyment comes from the Bridesmaids quartet of Kristen Wiig/Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph/Chris O’Dowd as two couples who are friends with the lead characters. They enliven the proceedings and it’s a shame they don’t feature more. (or rather, replace the lead characters entirely). Scott is good, but Westfeld should stick to directing. Or maybe switch industries. She’s just awkward compared to her experienced colleagues.
Spoiler: When the leads finally realise their love for each other, he says to her: “The romance was always here (between us)… everything else was just filler.” I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that line. It’s like Westfeldt has summed up all the problems of her film in a nutshell.