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Sarah Polley Talks 'Take This Waltz': 'I wanted to make a film about the concept of emptiness'

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 29, 2012 at 8:55AM

"I feel like this film does raise questions that can be uncomfortable for people," Sarah Polley told Indiewire about her second directorial effort, "Take This Waltz." "About familiarity and passion... and whether those things are mutually exclusive. That's been really interesting to get to listen to the conversations that come out of that and hear the debates that break out in terms of which characters people sympathize with and which ones they don't."
Take This Waltz Michelle Williams

Polley also wanted to show something equally underrepresented on the big screen: Her hometown. "Take This Waltz" is a rare high-profile film not only shot in Toronto, but set there. Save "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," it's hard to find an example of a Toronto-set film with well-known actors and a considerable American release.

"It was really important for me to have Toronto play a central character in the film and to really feel the texture of the city in the summer," she said.  "I wanted to show Toronto through the romantic goggles I see it. I feel there's a lot about Toronto in the film that is real and is what I love about the city... and a lot of it is a little bit of a fairy tale about Toronto."

Polley certainly doesn't hold back in showcasing this love, fairy tale or real. There's a trip to Toronto's Royal Cinema, coffee in Kensington Market, a glimpse of the CN Tower...  At one point, Margot and Lou are watching Canadian TV news coverage of the the minor earthquake that hit Ottawa a year or so back.  Margot even constantly carries around a Pages Bookstore tote (the iconic Toronto bookstore that went under last year), and her and Daniel share poutine during an afternoon in Toronto's The Beach neighbourhood.

"It does have Canadianisms and Toronto stuff in it but at the same time what I think is funny is that I didn't intentionally slather it with Canadian references," Polley laughed. "I just feel like we're so used to seeing Toronto disguised that as soon as someone doesn't disguise it seems like it's incredibly self-conscious. I feel like I wasn't incredibly self-conscious about making it overly Canadian. I think I just didn't try to avoid it being Canadian."

Polley is currently spending most of her time in Canada focusing on her latest project: Motherhood. Her daughter was born earlier this year, and recent press for "Waltz" has been the first time she's been, uh, away from her.

Take This Waltz

"Right now I'm not juggling anything," she said. "I'm just staying at home with my baby. So it's quite easy. This is the only time I've had away from her since she's been born. But generally, I'm not a workaholic. I feel like I do kind of one thing at a time and I do them kind of slowly. I don't do a lot of juggling. I feel I'm interested in a lot of different things but I tend to do them all kind of separately and in their own space."

But Polley has optioned Margaret Atwood's novel "Alias Grace," and confirmed she had begun working on the screenplay before giving birth.

"When I return to work that'll be what I do first," Polley said.

We can't wait. In the meantime, "Take This Waltz" opens in theaters this Friday.

This article is related to: Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley, Interviews