The Wife.

The Wife

Glenn Close soars in a drama that never matches or comes close to her heights.

Based on the Meg Wolitzer novel, this begins as a classic story of “behind every great man is a strong woman”. Joe Castleman has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Joan stands quietly by his side, making sure he takes his meds, modestly rebuffing his attempts at publicly thanking her for her support. Joan, it seems, is more interested in her family than in fame. But then a reporter (a fine Christian Slater) shows up. And it seems all may not be as it looks in the Castleman legacy.

Especially in the light of the “me too” movement, this could have been a shaking reminder of what some women, now of a ‘certain age’, have dealt with. While Wolitzer often addresses these issues with aplomb in her novels, the film version never slams us with the kind of vivid urgency modern audiences might need. Director Bjorn Runge seems to prefer focusing on the quiet moments. And some of them, especially between Close and her on screen husband, Jonathan Pryce, are wise and lovely.

The real, resonant reason to see this film is to witness Close’s stunning performance. It’s not just the physically calibrated work, as she begins to heat like a simmering pot, it’s also her pacing of the dialogue, which is so fresh and exciting, it made me want to go back and watch earlier work of hers, just to relive and relish her uniquely exciting talent.