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Originally published Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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'Take This Waltz' spins tale of a love triangle, with one bright side

A movie review of "Take This Waltz," Sarah Polley's sophomore directing effort starring Michelle Williams as a married woman who falls into an affair with a neighbor (Luke Kirby). As the third party in this triangle, Seth Rogen carries the picture, which, despite some bright moments, often feels thin and self-conscious.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Take This Waltz,' with Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman. Written and directed by Sarah Polley. 116 minutes. Rated R for language, strong sexual content and graphic nudity. Harvard Exit.

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As an actress, Sarah Polley has demonstrated an impressively wide range in such films as "The Sweet Hereafter" (1997) and "eXistenZ" (1999) and the wonderful Canadian backstage miniseries "Slings and Arrows" (2006).

When she became a feature-film director with "Away From Her" (2007), the result was more than promising. She also wrote the script, earning an Oscar nomination for her adaptation of Alice Munro's story about a woman with Alzheimer's disease. Under Polley's direction, Julie Christie earned an Oscar nomination for best actress.

Polley's long-awaited follow-up film, "Take This Waltz," sold out a screening at the recent Seattle International Film Festival. But this sophomore effort, set in Toronto and based on her own original screenplay, often feels thin and self-conscious.

Despite some bright moments, especially an extended "meet cute"opening sequence, her story about a married woman (Michelle Williams) who falls into an affair with an artist/neighbor (Luke Kirby) has a "been there, done that" quality that's hard to shake.

While they make a handsome couple, few sparks fly when they spend a day or a night or a montage together. They're accompanied by a Leonard Cohen song that supplies the picture with its rather arbitrary title.

As the third party in this triangle, Seth Rogen carries the picture, largely by default. He seems a decent guy, a mensch even, especially when saddled with an alcoholic sister (Sarah Silverman, slightly over-the-top in a role that calls for shrillness).

Rogen owns the episodes in which the movie comes closest to heartbreak. Going out of his way to accommodate his wife's lover, he makes you want to see this disruption through his character's eyes.

John Hartl:

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