I hadn’t heard of The Wife until Glenn Close’s nomination for the Golden Globes. So I checked this out, to see if it was something special.
We follow Joan Castleman (Glenn Close), the wife of a well-established author. Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) begins the movie by receiving a call announcing that he’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature. So the two of them head to Sweden for the ceremony, along with their son David (Max Irons) and followed by a tenacious biographer Nathanial (Christian Slater).
The movie takes place over only a few days, as the true history that these two share is unveiled and their marriage begins to unravel.
Glenn Close is the anchor of this film and she delivers a performance that absolutely earns her the Best Actress accolade from the Golden Globes (and maybe even from the Academy). Her transition here is subtle, from subservient and dutiful wife to a place of independence and empowerment. I don’t want to spoil how this plays out, but she gets many chances to shine and she carries this entire picture.
She’s supported by some exceptional talent as well. Jonathan Pryce doesn’t display the range of emotions that Close showcases, but he still portrays his role exceptionally well. He’s blissfully ignorant of his wife’s plight and dissatisfaction.
I found the mystery at the core of this movie, why everything unravels, to be interesting as well. You get some clues and hints until it finally hits you as to what’s happening. It’s a very satisfying journey, to say the least.
What doesn’t work?
The pacing here is a bit slow, made even more noticeable about the abundant silence throughout the film. It’s a crawl, slow and heavy. There are also some supporting characters that don’t really fit this level of film, most noticeably their son in the film played by Max Irons and a photographer who follows Pryce’s character. These two feel especially amateur when placed alongside some of these heavyweights.
While Glenn Close delivers the performance of a lifetime, this movie isn’t perfect. For every great performance, there’s someone maybe a tad miscast. The pacing is slow, but the mystery is worthwhile if you can really get into it. This is worth seeing for her performance alone but I understand how this movie came and went with very little notice, it definitely wasn’t made for mainstream audiences.