By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Behind every great man, stands either an equally great or even superior mate. On the surface of this indie drama, that saying would appear to be the central theme. However, as the film reveals, the saying can hold true whether or not said man is actually all that great. Based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife deals with the gender politics of both marital and professional varieties. With impressive writing, solid direction and tremendous performances by leads Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, this intelligent and engaging film is one not to miss.
Close stars as the titular devoted spouse Joan Castleman, whose husband Joe (Pryce) has enjoyed success, fame and critical acclaim as a novelist. Though Joe relishes the spotlight, the more introverted and pensive Joan would much rather enjoy a more quiet life. But, that is a wish which will not come any sooner, as Joe has been selected to receive the Nobel Prize for his achievements in literature. As Joe, Joan and their sensitive aspiring writer son David (Max Irons) go through the Nobel hoopla and festivities, some shocking truths and repressed emotions surface and threaten the status quo for the famous family.
With an adapted screenplay by Jane Anderson, director Björn Runge has made a captivating and emotionally charged film that is sure to impress audiences with its phenomenal acting. Though the writing and direction are both great, this movie lives and breathes vibrantly, mostly because of the talents bringing these characters to life. It is a movie which could easily be adapted for the stage and one which could, under the proper direction, take on Broadway. Nevertheless, I was certainly impressed with both the work of director Björn Runge and screenwriter Jane Anderson who give these acting giants a wonderful place to play.
It should come as no surprise that the superb and transcendent Glenn Close is an absolute joy to behold. Her nuanced and sublime work here perfectly embodies the pain, passion and repression that defines her character Joan Castleman. Jonathan Pryce puts much heart, energy and panache into his role as the self-absorbed extrovert and insufferable flirt Joseph Castleman. Max Irons also gives an outstanding turn as the painfully insecure son David, a young man intimidated by his father’s successes. In an enjoyably smarmy and conniving role, Christian Slater gives a fun and wicked performance as a lecherous writer dishing for dirt on the Castleman family.
And once all of the dirt settles, audiences will definitely be pleased with what this film has to offer and what it has to say. Though there have been other films with similar themes, The Wife is certainly one of the more enjoyable and compelling entries. Fans of Close, Pryce and Slater are sure to enjoy this dramatic feast of their talents and perhaps might become fans of director Björn Runge and screenwriter Jane Anderson. Having enjoyed their work on The Wife, I will keep them on my radar for any future projects they may offer in the future.