The Wife


Glenn Close delivers a commanding turn as the long-suffering spouse of a revered author in Björn Runge’s The Wife. Based on Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel, this intimate drama sees outwardly warm Joan Castleman (Close) travel to Stockholm to stand proudly by the side of her husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) as he receives the Nobel Prize in Literature. When Joe is assigned a young photographer (Karin Franz Körlof) to document his trip, it becomes clear he’s a voracious womaniser, which Joan copes with by demurely turning a blind eye. But as tension between the couple grows, it transpires that the true source of their conflict is an explosive shared secret. In its quieter moments, the leads deftly convey both the reassuring intimacy and spirit-crushing mundanity of a long-term partnership. And Runge paces the film well, building gradually towards an explosive climax. But the film is utterly pedestrian in aesthetic terms, while scenes featuring Joe’s aggrieved unauthorised biographer Nathaniel (Christian Slater) feel stagey and contrived.

The Wife | Directed by Björn Runge (Sweden, UK, US 2017) with Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce. Starts January 3. 

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