This week sees the (limited) UK release of Sarah Polley’s new indie romantic comedy drama, Take This Waltz.
Her debut film, Away From Her, received rave reviews and her latest promises to follow suit. Set in the über-hip Toronto neighbourhood of Little Portugal, it follows restless Margot as she reconsiders her comfortable marriage in light of temptation from an exciting stranger.
Most importantly, it stars Michelle Williams and is worth a watch on that basis alone. Here’s why:
1. She’s a 1990s teen icon, no less
Like many women of my age, I spent the late 1990s absorbed in the wordy teen angst of Dawson’s Creek. But it wasn’t drippy Dawson, flaky Joey or – let’s face it – flipping adorable Pacey that I loved. No. I was a card-carrying, badge-wearing member of Team Jen.
Jen, played by Williams, was a rebel, the bad girl of the creek. She was chucked out of her family home in the city and went on to raise hell in sleepy Capeside. She drank, she sulked and she led a fair few of the local boys astray. And she stole the whole show by dying at the end (come on, you didn’t watch it all the way to the end of season six?), confirming my opinion that the whole show in fact revolved around her, not Dawson.
2. She rocks the pixie cut
I’ll be honest, I envy anyone who can carry off a pixie haircut. This includes my mum, who recently debuted an almost-mauve elfin cut that looks absolutely awesome. Like my mum, Williams manages to look both cute and demure with a haircut that would make me look ridiculous and I have to admire that.
3. She’s the most successful Creek star
Not only was Jen the best Dawson’s Creek character, but Williams has definitely had the most respectable career of any of the core cast, post-Creek.
Sure, Katie Holmes bagged Tom Cruise but that didn’t turn out as well as we’d all hoped and her relationship woes have since distracted from her actually-quite-good performance in Batman Begins.
Likewise, Joshua Jackson has been in one or two low-key films but has found cult status starring in US sci-fi show Fringe. James Van Der Beek – verbose Dawson himself – has never really shaken off the eponymous role and can currently be seen sending himself up in Don’t Trust The B---- in Apartment 23.
Meanwhile, Williams has put in a string of great performances in Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, Blue Valentine, My Week With Marilyn and nowTake This Waltz. Performances that have earned her no fewer than three Academy Award nominations to date. Williams wins.
4. She nailed the role of Marilyn Monroe
When Williams took on the tricky role of Marilyn Monroe for My Week With Marilyn, she could have fallen in to the trap of hamming it up. We all think we know Monroe but what most of us know is that she stood on a subway grate in a white dress and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy.
Williams is widely regarded to have got under the skin of Monroe for the film, portraying more than the obvious character and succeeding where plenty of others have failed.
5. She’s the kind of girl I could hang with
Marilyn aside, most of Williams’s characters are less than glamorous. She isn't afraid of playing normal, run-of-the-mill, sometimes downtrodden young women simply trying not screw up. I can relate to those characters. Just as I wanted to be as cool as Jen in my late teens, I want to be as down to earth as Williams as I embark on my 30s.
Photo via Gage Skidmore’s Flickr