We saw this much hyped and much lauded film at the DCA. It looked like it should have been at least a good film, but alas it was not. Not for me at any rate. I found it pretentious, unbelievable and often plain boring. It was beautifully shot and the cast was very good, in particular Michelle Williams. It is just such a pity that there was very little to like or believe about her character or some of the others. Michelle plays Margot a 28 year old writer of tourist brochures who would really like to be writing something else, but what is never made clear. She has what appears to be a loving and stable marriage to Lou (a laid back Seth Rogen) who spends just about all his time cooking chicken dishes in their kitchen – he is researching for a cookbook. But right from the off it is clear that this is not enough for Margot. She has a dreamlike and wistful look about her nearly all of the time. Waiting or hoping for something to change her life, yet frightened of risks at the same time. The catalyst, which comes pretty soon, comes in the handsome shape of Daniel played by Luke Kirby. They meet by chance at a tourist site and end up side by side on the plane home. It transpires that Daniel lives in the same street, directly opposite Margot. And she had never noticed him before? Daniel, who pulls a rickshaw from his home to the beach every morning? Wow, you have to be pretty self engrossed to miss that. But I suppose that this is part of the problem with Margot – she is self engrossed.
Daniel of course is all charm. He is a would be artist, but cannot bear to show his work to anyone, except Margot. Much of the film is their slow, slow courtship, but there is little sense of hot passion to be glimpsed in all this. A lot of teasing, but little more. When they do finally get together it seems that sex was what it was all about, as we go straight into a long sequence of explicit sex scenes, including a threesome. Is this all that Margot wanted after all? It also transpires in quick time that Margot and Daniel now live in some classy expensive apartment. Where did the money for this come from? They also very quickly relax on the sex front and end up spending most of their time on a sofa watching TV. Quite what the point of all this remains beyond my understanding. New experiences cease to be new at some point in time. Hardly revelatory.
I also found the ending rather unconvincing, though I am at a loss as to what the ending is meant to be. Margot seems to be back in her old kitchen replaying the initial scene of the film. Baking cookies and looking rather wistful. But why is she back in her old kitchen? Is she back in her old kitchen? And who is the shadowy figure who crosses the screen? Who cares? My best take is that the whole thing is just a dream and that Margot has never left the kitchen. The best summation of the film comes from a line by one of the minor characters, Margot’s alcoholic sister-in-law, who tells her, “Life has gaps, it just does. But that doesn’t mean you have to fill them. You fucked up.” Just a pity that we had to sit through two hours to get the message.