REVIEW: The Wife finds beauty and agony in its quiet complexities

This tale of two people in a marriage past its’ peak is most powerful when examining the things characters won’t say to one another.

Glenn Close is a revelation as Joan, the once-talented writing student who married her college professor. Her hopes and dreams took a backseat to Joe, her husband, who is about to receive a Nobel Prize for literature.

As she walks into each event in his honour, she finds herself holding his coat and smiling sheepishly. He constantly makes sure to thank his “long-suffering” spouse for putting up with his creative spirit.

But as the awards banquet grows near, Joan begins to look back on her life with her husband, and her memories of their life together threaten to destroy the happy occasion.

Joan is also spending time trying to stroke the ego of her writer son, desperate instead for his father’s approval, and expects the impending arrival of a grandchild from her daughter.

This is a film where every look, every piece of dialogue and even the silence of a character can mean so much, and it will captivate you.

Glenn Close is headed for an Oscar nomination, and if I’m honest, for a probable award here. Though not as impressive, Jonathan Pryce is also a contender to watch as her oblivious, hugely flawed husband.

Some kudos has to also go to Max Irons — some of Jeremy — as a son just trying to make his father proud, and Christian Slater gives an uncharacteristically divine turn as a biographer chasing a big scoop.

It’s a film that’s great, but maybe not Oscar-worthy. However, the performers here all deserve the praise lauded upon them, and Close gives the performance of a lifetime.

4/5 Stars

 

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