A rare, honest, poignant cinematic moment about the beauty of flesh, young and old

Sarah Silverman and Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz « recapped nudity review2In the 2012 movie Take This Waltz, there is a magical scene in a swimming pool shower room. Three women in their thirties are talking about their love and sex lives, their happiness and, especially, their discontents (the storyline centers on a married woman who has fallen, quiet unhappily, in love with another man; in this scene she does the listening). Across the room from them are three women perhaps 20 or 30 years older.  All are naked, none the least bit self-conscious.  

At length, one of the younger women says to her friends, "Sometimes I just want something new. New things are shiny." One of the older woman hears her and says, "New things get old."

Every review I read of the movie seized on this beautiful scene as the high point of the movie. The takes were somewhat different. I thought one reviewer missed the point. She said,

"Ms. Polley [the director] cuts from one set of naked bodies to the other, noting the contrasts of size, shape and firmness. It’s hard to miss the point — young flesh will age; old flesh was once young; time wins in the end."

Two others got it.  One wrote: "The real beauty of Polley’s directing is its celebration of imperfection… [in the shower scene] No one is Brazilian-ed or, seemingly, surgically enhanced. No one is self-conscious. Amid all the film’s romance — even the unconventional kind — this turns out to be the most radical scene of all."  

Another said: "The naked female body, young and old, firm and saggy, is displayed for us without provocation, and at length, to simply convey the waltz of growing old without shame." 

What the reviewers did not comment on was the tone of the older woman–a black woman with a Caribbean accent–who gave the response. She was not sighing: "It is so sad, shiny things get old." She was simply explaining to the younger women something that they did not yet realize–and were better off knowing. While the younger women chattered, the older women were quieter, simply enjoying the pleasure of the shower. 

The film features Michelle Williams, who is gorgeous in her muted, flustered struggle. Two comedians check their shtick at the door and perform beautifully: Seth Rogen as the husband who gets the sickening feeling that his wife is drifting away from him, and Sarah Silverman, who cannot help wondering if married life is all there is ("who am I shaving my legs for?").  

Here is the shower scene.  If you consider women's breasts and pubic hair X-rated, it is. Natural, titillation-free (though you would not know if from the remarks on the site), yet riveting, it is well worth a minute and a half of your day.  


One thought on “A rare, honest, poignant cinematic moment about the beauty of flesh, young and old

  1. What a beautifully moving scene, and on so many levels. Thank you. I personally could not take my eyes off Michelle William's face, she said so much with so little.

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