Fatal Attraction meets Reprise
Joan Castleman is the quiet and supportive wife, who accompanies her husband, Joe, to Sweden upon his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gradually, underlying difficulties with their marriage are exposed as they celebrate and pursue his success.
I’ve always been a fan of Glenn Close and the fascinating subtlety in her acting. I can say with quite an amount of certainty that this is the performance of her life. It seems like fate would have it that Joan Castleman was written purely for Close to portray.
There is nothing better than a slow burning drama, and The Wife does not fail to bring an incredibly well crafted story to the screen. This movie is tangibly laced with evidence that there will be an emotional explosion; the slightest twitch in the corner of Joan Castleman’s forced smile as she holds Joe’s coat for him. The almost undetectable second glance when he is eating the fatty foods he shouldn’t be. The wet glisten in her eye when they receive that phone call. A thousand emotions in what may look, at first glance, like an emotionless expression or an everyday, casual action. Director Björn Runge’s camera appreciates this and takes the time to allow us, as a priveledged audience, to soak up what Joan Castleman is going through. It is a wonderfully well performed orchestra of tension, and the ever-so-steady unveiling of truths behind this relationship leads to a finale that does not disappoint.
Another layer to what makes this movie such a memorable one is the intelligent questions it asks and the timeless issues it addresses. What makes a “happy” marriage? However, I can’t really divulge into the further questions The Wife asks without spoiling the ending for those who haven’t seen it, because yes, this will catch you by surprise if you have not yet gathered the entirety of the plot in the trailers and marketing.
The chemistry between Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close is spectacular. In fact, the dynamics between all the lead characters in this movie were very satisfying. Christian Slater (one of my favourites) is entertaining to watch as the curious journalist who just will not give up when it comes to delving into the private lives of the Castlemans’ marriage. Annie Starke is impressive as the young Joan. I only realised she is Close’s daughter after watching the movie (during the viewing, I was like “hmm, this actress really has a look of Glenn Close – good work!”)
The Wife is a movie I will likely be returning to time and time again, and I’m sure on each occasion I will notice some small reaction or unearth a subtle layer that I did not see the first time. It had me unexpectedly weeping, angry at times and laughing out loud, too.
Go see it. Now!