Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The Wife



One of the more under-appreciated films of 2018 was this marvellous drama from Bjorn Runge (brilliantly written by Jane Anderson, based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer) about the tense relationship between Joan and Joe Castleman, who have been married for 40 years. Joe, played perfectly by Jonathan Pryce, has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the fulfillment of his dreams, but the trip he and Joan (Glenn Close) make to Stockholm to claim his prize will not be a happy occasion.

As the title suggests, the focus of The Wife is on Joan, and Close deserves at least an Academy Award nomination for her understated spot-on performance as a woman who has obviously had to put up with a lot during her long marriage to a rather unlikable conceited man. Other important characters in the film are Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), who wants to write a biography about Joe and believes he has uncovered some secrets, and the Castlemans’ son, David (Max Irons), who wants to be a great writer himself and is desperate for his father’s approval. There are also a number of important flashbacks featuring a young Joan and Joe (Annie Stark, Close’s actual daughter, and Harry Lloyd).

The plot isn’t entirely credible, which prevents The Wife from being a pure four-star film, but I enjoyed every minute of this riveting film. With its many delicious scenes between Joan and Joe, along with its delightful performances, this intelligent and thought-provoking film was one of my favourites of the year. ***+ - ****. My mug is up.

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