Sarah Polley's second feature, much like her superb Away From Her (2006), thoughtfully probes the pitfalls of coupledom and third-party threats. Five years into their marriage, Torontonians Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) have regressed fully into sexlessness, heat and mystery having been supplanted by baby-talking, bathroom oversharing, and weirdly aggressive verbal game-playing. For one of her infrequent freelance-writing gigs, Margot leaves their home—a spacious cocoon where cookbook author Lou perfects chicken dishes in the kitchen—for a quick research trip to a historic site in Nova Scotia. There she meets lean, hungry Daniel (Luke Kirby); seated next to each other on the flight back, sparks fly—particularly when they discover they live across the street from each other. Yet where Polley's debut benefited from the solidity of the Alice Munro story on which it was adapted, Take This Waltz wobbles at times with the writer/director's own credibility-straining choices: Daniel isn't just a rickshaw driver but an aspiring painter, and signpost dialogue—"I don't like being in between things," Margot says of her fear of flight connections—abounds in the film's first third. But there are enough unexpected delights, such as repurposing "Video Killed the Radio Star" during a critical moment between Margot and Daniel, to keep us interested in their drawn-out, teasing, tantalizing courtship.
Williams and Rogen on shaky marital ground.
Opens Fri., July 13 at Harvard Exit. Rated R. 116 minutes.