Review: The Wife
(M) Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Annie Starke
Glenn Close is one of those rare talents who has managed to spread her skills across a multitude of entertainment outlets from film and television to animation. She has been a force on the big screen since the 1980’s and has gone on to garner six Academy Award nominations. She has played everything from the strong, but the vulnerable wife (The Big Chill) to one of the most terrifying stalkers in cinematic history (Fatal Attraction). She was also the iconic children’s film villain (101 Dalmatians) and she even managed to make it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With this exceptional range, she has established herself as one of the most influential actresses in modern filmmaking.
Director Björn Runge’s (Happy End) brilliant interpretation of Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Wife, provides a platform that capitalizes on all that the seasoned actress needs to radiate on screen. Close takes on the role of Joan Castleman, the devoted wife of a celebrated author, Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) who has recently been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Throughout the ceremonies involved with winning the award, Joan begins to reflect on the years of sacrifice that she has experienced to support her husband’s literary career. Secrets come to light that could unhinge everything that their marriage has come to represent to the public, the trust of their children and everything that has led them to receive the venerable award in Stockholm.
From the marketing, there is very little to draw audiences into the theatre to see this slow-burn drama of self-awareness. Between the minimalistic title and vague storyline, the production team has done all they can to hide this cinematic treasure.
Close is so believable and manages to embody this character with such grace, beauty and an underlying passion that proves her mastery in acting. Jonathan Pryce is ideally cast to portray the controlling, yet vulnerable husband and Christian Slater continues to thrive as the borderline smarmy biographer to lift the overall storyline. In amongst these seasoned actors, Max Irons as the brooding son, David, and Annie Starke as the young Joan were standouts in the supporting cast.
What begins as a typical tale of neglected love, becomes a statement on the differences in the eras that different masters of their craft experience and what lengths people will take to achieve their insatiable dreams. ‘Writers need to write’ is a theme throughout the film and the inner drive of people to do whatever it takes to satisfy the need to express their talents and desires.
Even though God never gets a mention in the film, The Wife draws on the concept of the established gifts afforded to each person and unwittingly suggests that their existence had an origin. In the Bible, there were two writers named David and Jeremiah who spoke of how God wove us together before we were born and had plans for our lives. He was the originator of our thoughts, dreams and talents, which makes sense why so many people work so hard to use them. Despite the sacrifice, the difficulties and hardship, their fulfilment needs to be satisfied.
Where do you go in the Bible to find answers to God’s awareness of mankind’s desires?
Jeremiah 1:5 & 29:11, Psalm 139; Ephesians 1:1-23