Review in a Hurry: Nope, don't take this Waltz. The sophomore feature from writer/director Sarah Polley centers on sophomoric Margot (Michelle Williams), a married writer who is all atwitter for her hottie artist neighbor (Luke Kirby). Dramatically inert and languidly paced, Waltz stumbles all over its arty-indie pretensions.
The Bigger Picture: While Wes Anderson's latest, Moonrise Kingdom, is a superior example of offbeat auteur filmmaking (RIP, Andrew Sarris), Sarah Polley's Waltz occupies a spot at the other end of that spectrum. She throws in so many cutesy quirks and precious affectations we wanted to throw something at the screen.
Margot , 28, is happily married to cookbook author Lou (Seth Rogen), as illustrated by their shmoopy "I love you more" games, ugh. On a flight back to Toronto, Margot meets and flirts with seatmate Daniel (Luke Kirby), a handsome rickshaw-driver and painter who—as kismet would have it—lives right across the street from her and Lou.
During the sweltering summer, Margot and Daniel steal moments to moon over each other—at the beach, pool, café, amusement park, etc.—without acting on their mutual attraction. After all the tedious foreplay and long stares at the ocean (accompanied by soulful guitar), Margot must finally make a decision about her marriage.
At least this slim story is beautifully lensed, with interiors bathed in golden light, some sensual underwater photography, and a cool 360 degree shot of Margot engaged in various 2-ways and 3-ways. But the script is weighed down by inauthentic, on-the-nose dialogue. Characters freely launch into monologues about what they fear, and redundant scenes play like extended acting exercises.
Though Williams is lovely and naturalistic, Margot is a bizarrely written, emotionally stunted character who acts too childish for her age. Sarah Silverman adds a welcome energetic edge as Lou's alcoholic sister. Rogen, however, looks uncomfortable portraying an earnest romantic lead, especially during his self-conscious reactions to Margot's philandering. Lots of painful emoting and burying his face in his hands.
We had the same response to this phony, frustrating Waltz.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Great new drinking game! Take a shot every time there's a scene of Williams peeing or showering, and you too will be heading for the bathroom.