Thursday, October 25, 2018

Movie Review: "The Wife" (2018)

Director: Björn Runge
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

When writer Joe Castleman wins the Nobel prize in literature, he and his wife Joan and their son David travel to Stockholm where a pushy biographer's digging opens wounds of the past and causes Joan to reflect on the events that led them to Stockholm.

The Wife 2018 movie still Glenn Close
"I don't want to be thought of as some long-suffering wife." (Image Source)
Behind every great man is an even greater woman. "The Wife" is directed by Swedish filmmaker Björn Runge. This is his first English language film, though the majority of the story still takes place in Sweden. The screenplay is written by Jane Anderson, an Emmy award-winning television writer, though she does have a few feature films under her belt, including "It Could Happen to You" and "How to Make an American Quilt." It is adapted from the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. The story opens with the famed author Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), who receives a call that he has just won the Nobel Prize in literature. He heads to Sweden with his wife Joan (Glenn Close) and their son David (Max Irons), an aspiring writer who has a constant chip on his shoulder and apparently lives in perpetual misery. While on the trip, all three of the Castlemans are approached by writer Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), who is working on an unauthorized biography about Joe. Over the weekend, which is supposed to be celebrating Joe's greatest achievement, Nathaniel starts to dig up dirt from the family's past, which creates even more animosity between Joan, David, and Joe and causes Joan to reflect on her choices, which may have led them to where they are today.
The Wife 2018 movie still Glenn Close Jonathan Pryce
"My wife doesn't write, thank god, or else I'd suffer permanent writer's block." (Image Source)
"The Wife" is a solid film about a woman forced to suppress her own talent due to the ingrained sexist culture of early America. Much of the movie takes place in modern times revolving around the Nobel Prize presentation for Joe, but another part focuses on flashbacks meant to give us understanding as to how Joan and Joe got to this point in their lives. It shows that when the couple was young, it was during a time where women weren't taken seriously as writers, leading Joan to put her dreams of becoming a writer on hold to help her husband make it as an author. This film would be rather pedestrian if it weren't for some truly magnificent performances from Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Their performances help elevate this film and make it as engaging, compelling, and sharp as it is. Close especially gives an award-worthy performance, and we wouldn't be shocked to see her get yet another nomination for best actress during Oscar season. Her silent stewing, her rightful blow-ups, and her decades-long frustration seep into every word she utters. Jonathan Pryce matches her intensity, but it's hard to deny that she overshadows him, as she should, as the titular wife. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, and Max Irons, in particular, offers a less-than-mediocre portrayal of a man living in his father's shadow and has become very bitter because of it. Everything Irons does seems so effortful and unnatural. Luckily, Close and Pryce's acting more than makes up for any blunders elsewhere.
The Wife 2018 movie still Glenn Close Max Irons
"There's nothing more dangerous than a writer whose feelings have been hurt." (Image Source)
Though the story and its presentation aren't too complex, there's enough quiet rage and palpable animosity in the performances in "The Wife" to keep the audience interested, even if the movie as a whole is a little forgettable.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
RT Rating: ~85%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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