The Wife

The Wife Movie Review: This is certainly a stirring portrait of disillusionment

By Johnson Thomas

Updated: Mar 05, 2019, 12:21 IST

While 'The Wife' is not a great piece of work, the lead artistes definitely are worthy contenders for the awards.

The Wife
Director: Bjorn Runge
Cast: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater

The two lead performances are what make The Wife so special. In this unsettling drama - an adaptation of the 2003 Meg Wolitzer novel by Jane Anderson - Glenn Close plays Joan, the wife of a Nobel Prize-winning writer Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce).

Directed by Bjorn Runge, The Wife opens in 1992 when Joe and Joan Castleman, in their Connecticut home, are trying to fall asleep when they get a call from the Nobel academy, informing them of the prize. It's their moment of triumph after 40 years of struggle with the written word, in which Joan, supposedly, has played a largely complementary role. Of course, there are flashbacks that hint at her own phenomenal ability to write prose, stifled by a marriage that demands she subjugate her talents to a life of reflected glory in a period (late '50s and early '60s), where women writers were not given the importance they command today.

There's no great suspense or mystery powering this tale of a breakdown that spirals into tragedy at the crowning moment of an author's accomplishments. In fact, Runge doesn't appear to be as interested in developing the suspense as he is in showcasing the unravelling of a suppressed human mind.

Close literally steals the thunder with her role as the devoted wife of a celebrated novelist. She is the keeper of his deepest, darkest secret; a stunningly nuanced expressionism that is more than likely to take your breath away. The restraint and modulation she brings to the role are simply phenomenal. It's a performance that is deservedly walking away with a slew of awards.

Pryce is no mean performer either. His role may not garner much sympathy, but his act complements that of Close so well that you begin to believe in their togetherness.

The Wife is a little compact and contrived, given its novel origins. The attempt to complicate matters for the Castlemans by showcasing their troubled relationship with their budding novelist son, David, seems passé. Also, Joan's seething frustrations don't seem completely justified, even whilst considering the period they take wings in. While the movie is not a great piece of work, the lead artistes definitely are worthy contenders for the awards.

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