Sarah Polley swears her new film, Take This Waltz, is not autobiographical. Honest. Yes, she has some things in common with her heroine, Margot (Michelle Williams). Both women are nervous fliers who live in funky downtown Toronto. Both regretfully ended marriages to men they met young – in the movie, Lou (Seth Rogen); and in Polley’s life, the film editor David Wharnsby. And both found happiness with someone new: Margot with Daniel (Luke Kirby); and Polley with David Sandomierski, a PhD law candidate at the University of Toronto, who has clerked with Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. They got married Aug. 23 at chef Michael Stadtlander’s Eigensinn farm near Singhampton, Ont., followed by an intimate reception at his restaurant, Haisai, and a honeymoon at Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park. And they’re expecting their first child in March. But just like her film, Polley’s story is more complicated than any details.
“Any time a young woman makes a film, people think it’s autobiographical,” Polley, 32, said on Monday, laughing and shaking her head. “I don’t know why they don’t think the same thing about dudes, but they don’t.”
She was sitting at a table in a hotel interview suite, wearing a black satin dress that betrayed no sign of her pregnancy. But there was no hiding her radiant glow, and she didn’t try to. ‘I’m pregnant, 3½ months,” she said a few minutes into our talk. Her hair looked like a shiny blond sheet, and her wide, soft eyes – soul-stabbers onscreen – were even more expressive than usual. She’s always been an honest talker, though in the past she seemed a little nervous about it, a little controlled, in a way that could make her seem over-earnest. This time she was frank, funny (she laughed a lot) and relaxed, open to almost any idea or discussion. True to her long-standing activism, she even tweaked Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “When I think about what I find beautiful and exciting about Toronto, I think about street art and streetcars and bicycles. And they’re exactly the things right now that are under attack,” she said. “I shot even more scenes of bikes than I used, and now I wish I hadn’t cut those out.”
News of her pregnancy went out over the wires like a shot, but Polley wasn’t making a fuss. “It’s been pretty easy so far,” she said. “I definitely was nauseous for a while, but I’m feeling good now. I’m tired, but nothing to complain about.” She’s happy about her March due date, “because you’ve got a month of being inside, then you get to go outside.” Her family – her father Michael Polley, an actor and insurance agent, and four older siblings, including John Buchan, a casting director and her frequent collaborator – all live in Toronto, so they’ll be around to help. (Her actress mother, Diane, died of cancer when Polley was 11.) “But I can’t quite imagine it,” she said, her eyes widening. “A few friends have said to me, ‘Then they just give you the baby and tell you to go home with it’ – on your own!”
Polley knows people will think that her film is autobiographical. “And that’s totally fine,” she said. “Obviously, I was in a marriage that ended. But I started writing this when the marriage was quite good. And why it ended was in a strange way sadder than the one in the film. It was just a marriage that didn’t work. There was nobody else involved, there was no venom or anger or sense of betrayal. That makes it harder to grapple with.”