Take This Waltz (15)
The young writer-director Sarah Polley made a proper grown-up movie for her debut, the tormented late-life romance Away From Her (2006) that starred Julie Christie. Her second has a greater visual flair and feel for colour, though in terms of psychological insight it's much woollier, and its set-up is more conventional.
At heart, it's a portrait of a woman who's on the edge and doesn't quite know it. Michelle Williams plays Margot, a vaguely dissatisfied 28-year-old in middle-class Toronto married to Fozzy-Bear-cuddly Lou (Seth Rogen), who's writing a chicken cookbook.
Their relationship is happy, comfortable, dull, and involves a lot of baby talk (ugh) and mock-vicious threats, so when Margot meets hunky Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a plane and then discovers that they live opposite each other, you know that trouble's on the way. "I'm afraid of connections," she says, referring to her phobia around airports but meaning something, uh, deeper.
The line illustrates Polley's shortcoming: she's a much better director than she is a writer. Her summoning of mood is tremendously assured, such as the scene in which Margot and Daniel ride a fairground waltzer to the yearning strains of "Video Killed The Radio Star" – and look broken by its sudden ending.
But the backstories ring false: Margot never seems to do any work (she's meant to be a freelance travel writer), Daniel is too well-off to be a rickshaw driver, and Lou looks like a guy who's never read, let alone written, a recipe in his life. Williams has fine expressive features, but she's often as annoying as she is adorable, too ready to wrap herself in a shawl of waifish victimhood.
After Wendy and Lucy, Blue Valentine, My Week With Marilyn and now this, I feel guilty saying that she can be a bit of a wet blanket. Take This Waltz has its moments, and a lot else you could call self-absorbed tripe.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader