The Wife Movie Review

The Wife may not be as powerful or emotionally wrenching as the thoughts running through its central figure’s head, but the woman playing her makes this worth checking out. Glenn Close has given many fine performances in her long career and this is among the top ones. She plays Joan Archer and she’s known only by who she’s married to – acclaimed author Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). The film opens with an early morning phone call where he finds out he’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

What transpires afterwards is an examination of their complicated marriage that began as an affair when he was a professor and she was an aspiring writer coed. He still fools around and she manages to put up with it. The list of annoyances extends to her dealing with the fawning behavior of those around him. There are two exceptions. One is their son (Max Irons) who’s trying make his own mark in his Dad’s profession and is forever stuck in his large shadow. The other is Joseph’s would-be biographer (Christian Slater) who believes there’s more to his subject’s legacy and partnership with Joan.

The film is set in Stockholm. This is due to the prestigious award Joseph is about to receive. It also seems appropriate as Joan begins to feel captive in her unhappy existence. Director Björn Runge is a native of the nation as we witness its cold winter and frosty breakdown of our leads.

We see flashbacks of their story. While the two actors playing them as newlyweds (Annie Starke and Harry Lloyd) do a decent job mimicking Close and Pryce, The Wife shines when the camera is trained on their elders counterparts. Starke, by the way, is the real life daughter of Close. Based on a novel from Meg Wolitzer and adapted by Jane Anderson, the picture doesn’t dwell much on what made this rocky union produce literary masterworks. That might’ve provided some insight, but Close’s own wrenching masterwork (with a game Pryce alongside) will have you ready to continue to the next chapter.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Wife

Glenn Close is a six-time Academy Award nominated actress who has yet to bring home the gold. Last fall, her drama The Wife premiered to solid reviews at the Toronto Film Festival (it’s at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). The pic is from Swedish director Björn Runge and it stars Close as a the long cheated on spouse of a prominent writer who reaches a breaking point. Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater costar.

While critics had positive things to say about the film itself, reviews were over the moon as to Close’s performance. Her Oscar losses include three in Supporting Actress (The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural) and the same number in Lead (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs).

The buzz last fall from up north bodes very well for her another nomination. The Wife is scheduled for U.S. distribution on August 3.

Bottom line: Glenn Close could well be on her way to a seventh trip down the red carpet, but whether she snags the prize this time remains to be seen.