Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years

7th May 2019 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

THE WIFE

UK/USA/Sweden/Switzerland 100 mins Cert. 15


Joan Castleman Glenn Close Director Björn L. Runge
Joe Castleman Jonathan Pryce Screenplay Jane Anderson.
Nathaniel Bone Christian Slater Based on novel by Meg
David Castleman Max Irons Wolitzer
Young Joe
Young Joan
Elaine Mozell
Harry Lloyd
Annie Starke
Elizabeth McGovern
Cinematography
Editor
Music
Ulf Brantås
Lena Runge
Jocelyn Pook

Glenn Close is typically brilliant as the titular wife in a tale of a marriage cracking under the pressures of fame, neediness and revenge.

Glenn Close is the power behind the throne in this absorbing study of a complex marriage. She’s Joan, the wife of a feted novelist, Joe Castleman, who’s soon to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Together with their sulky son David, the American couple fly to Stockholm for a whirlwind of press, functions and rehearsals—but the most telling moments happen when they're alone together in their hotel room.

Wife poster

While Meg Wolitzer’s source novel is written in Joan’s voice, The Wife resists narration and allows Joan to internalize her feelings, ranging from affection, concern and duty to bitterness and rage. It’s a smart move: Close’s piercing eyes dart around with telling expressions while Joe blusters on obliviously, enjoying the attention of sycophants. Not much, though, gets past Nathaniel Bone, a writer planning a biography on Joe. He shadows the couple and waits for his moment to pounce. Slater gives what could have been a stereotypical role plenty of spark, and his scenes with Close are riveting. The Wife is also very funny, not least when the Castlemans are woken by a group of traditional singers belting out "Santa Lucia" around their bed.

Less successful are the flashbacks to the couple’s past in the late 50s. The younger Joe doesn’t seem nearly charismatic enough to sweep Joan off her feet. That said, these scenes play an important part in a story with a satisfying sting in its tail, one that makes The Wife feel especially relevant today.

Anna Smith at www.timeout.com