Many days ago, when I was a student in Dublin, I had a free afternoon. Against my better judgement, I decided seeing a film would be more fruitful than studying. As I sat down in the mostly-empty theatre, I realised this was the first film I had ever been to alone, or watched devoid of context (other than that it may or may not have been named after a Leonard Cohen song). I then bore witness to the poignant and idiosyncratic Take This Waltz. I have never forgotten it.
Beyond the delicious visuals, there is a sympathy that this film allowed me to feel for every character, in a way that most indie-roms do not achieve. I felt for Margot, the relatable, flawed female lead, who is trying to choose between her husband, the cook, and a handsome rickshaw operator whom she meets at an historic town in Nova Scotia (no, I’m not kidding).
One of the most remarkable scenes takes place in the showers at a community swimming pool, where Margot and a group of women discuss relationships while nude. A scene that could have been a gratuitous male gaze fantasy becomes a touching and insightful look into one of the central questions of the film: whether “New things get old too,” is reason enough to “settle.” The answer is exquisitely unclear.
In the spirit of (500) Days of Summer, and Comet (also, all other films), Take This Waltz presents an idealised view of life as being defined by “moments;” a series of fleeting moments of human mis/connection with nothing in-between. Early on in the film, Margot admits that she is afraid of “being in-between,” and while this gives the sickly romance a certain self-awareness, it is nonetheless guilty of adding to the canon of films that lead one to believe that romance is the only thing that matters in life.
On that afternoon in Dublin, though, I decided not to fall into this critique of romantic films, but to hold this critique while taking the film on its own terms, and was rewarded with a unique and meaningful experience. After all, there are more important things to worry about.