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Michelle Williams & Seth Rogen: Blue Valentines?

May 29, 2012

What’s weirder—Michelle Williams’ real-life romance with Jason Segel or her on-screen marriage to his freakier (or is it geekier?) ex-costar Seth Rogen in Take This Waltz? They seem overmatched by Heath Ledger’s common-law widow, an intensely talented three-time Oscar nominee—although, to be fair, one of the songs Segel sang in The Muppets did win an Academy Award. Williams, of course, was most recently nominated for My Week With Marilyn, which she shot after Waltz, now belatedly available on VOD in advance of its limited theatrical release next month.

With the notable exception of the Montana-born Williams, Waltz is a thoroughly Canadian affair. It’s a Montreal-set romantic triangle that pits her between Rogen and another Canuck, Luke Kirby (who can also currently be seen in a superior Canadian movie on VOD, The Samaritan). The second feature film from actress-turned-writer/director Sarah Polley, it represents a major sophomore slump after the shattering Alzheimer’s drama Away From Her. (Among the more painful lines of dialogue, from Kirby to Williams: “I really inhaled and smelled you…You smelled like you do, a mixture of sweetness and fuck.”) And it’s named after a song popularized by one of the country’s national treasures, Leonard Cohen, although the only thing this movie seems to have in common with a waltz is that it’s slowww.

Cohen’s song does come into play when Williams (as an aspiring writer who pens tourist brochures) and Kirby (an artist who drives a rickshaw) finally get it on, an hour and a half into this 116-minute slog. It’s a surprisingly graphic sex scene, and there’s more full-frontal nudity when Williams takes a post-peeing-in-the-pool shower (don’t ask…) with Sarah Silverman, seriously miscast as Rogen’s recovering-addict sister. If only the script were as revealing of its annoyingly quirky and needlessly unlikable characters. The married couple, for example, engage in passive-aggressive “flirting” by sharing violent fantasies about each other—e.g., Rogen’s “I want to rape you with a pair of scissors until you bleed to death.” And they say romance is dead!

Rogen (as a chicken cookbook writer!) embarrasses himself in a tearful monologue once the affair is ultimately exposed, and while Williams acquits herself well—she even adopts a Canadian accent, eh?—it’s hard not to find the clumsy Waltz wanting compared to her other account of a doomed marriage, Blue Valentine. Sorry, Seth Rogen—you’re no Ryan Gosling. But we knew that already, didn’t we?

What’s your favorite Michelle Williams movie? Anybody else think she should’ve won an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain?

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2 Comments
  1. Teme permalink

    I would think she should have won for Brokeback Mountain if Amy Adams hadn’t been robbed that year, robbed, I tell ya. Her Ashley in Junebug is one of my favorite characters of all time– just brilliant. (One of the best movie lines ever: “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.”) I will never forgive Rachel Weisz.

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