Take This Waltz and Paper Year are two standout Canadian films exploring the end of a marriage with empathy and emotional complexity. We discuss the film’s complex characters, analyze their considerate direction, address their Canadianess, and learn about Toronto geography
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This episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and Associate Editor Brett Pardy.
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Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2011)
Take This Waltz is often quite a warm and funny film, but it’s also pretty devastating. Michelle Williams’ Margot is a woman stuck between two men: one an exciting and mysterious potential lover, the other her husband of several years. Rather than following the rom-com cliche of having the husband (Seth Rogen) be callous and the lover (Luke Kirby) an idyllic alternative, the film treads much murkier moral water. Margot’s husband is absolutely lovely, and they’re very happy together. The uncomfortable truth is that whichever man she chooses, she will be haunted by the path not taken. It’s a film that, in other hands, could have been boring and saccharine, but Polley takes the premise to places that are psychologically fascinating and uncompromising – Orla Smith
Paper Year (Rebecca Addelman, 2018)
Rebecca Addelman’s feature debut, Paper Year, begins in a whirl of ecstasy. Twentysomethings Franny (Eve Hewson) and Dan (Avan Jogia) just got married, and they run from their community hall ceremony in a fit of joyful laughter and rapturous embraces. We’ll never see them this deliriously happy again.
What follows is a patient, observant look at their first year of marriage, and the regrets and troubles that spawn from such an impulsive, passionate union. Once the dust settles, doubts about the marriage start to creep up on both, but they try to make the most of it. The film is episodic in the way it follows Franny’s and Dan’s various trials and triumphs, both separately and together — although Addelman positions the film largely from Franny’s perspective – Orla Smith
Show notes and recommended reading
- Take This Waltz was one of Orla’s choices for our critic’s survey on the best Canadian film of the decade. Check out the other choices.
- Read an excerpt from Orla’s interview with Paper Year director Rebecca Addelman
- For the full interview and much, much more, preview or purchase our ebook, The Canadian Cinema Yearbook, 2019.
- Listen to our episode discussing Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell
- Listen to our episode on Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story
- We briefly discuss Paper Year during our episode on the top ten Canadian films of 2018. Listen here
- Pre-order our newest ebook on Kelly Reichardt, Road to Nowhere: Kelly Reichardt’s Broken American Dreams.
- The intro music is Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz” and the outro is The Buggle’s “Video Killed the Radio Star”
Where to watch the films
- Paper Year is available on VOD and streaming on Netflix and CBC Gem in Canada, Netflix in the US, and Prime in the UK
- Take This Waltz is available on VOD and streaming on Crave, Prime, Hoopla, and CBC Gem in Canada, Hoopla and Kanopy in the US, and Kanopy in Australia