Film Review: The Wife

Director Björn Runge’s The Wife is an assured drama which plays to the strengths of its formidable lead.

Joan is the wife of revered author Joe Castleman, who is due to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. As the couple travel to Stockholm for the awards ceremony, Joan questions the choices she has made during the marriage…

Directed by Björn Runge with a screenplay by Jane Anderson, The Wife is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. The film drip feeds information to its viewers, requesting patience as the narrative unfolds. This works to the film’s advantage; the characters are given ample space to develop before the narrative reaches its climax.

The Wife begins at a slow pace, with Anderson exploring the two protagonists and their relationship. As the film progresses, there is a slow propelling towards the awards ceremony, but nothing is rushed. Although the central cause of friction can be predicted, the film unfolds in such a manner that compels nevertheless. The protagonists are richly depicted and multi-faceted. The interspersing of flashbacks with the main strand works well, dropping hints to the reveal in an absorbing manner. When the film does reach its climax, The Wife is thrilling. The three main scenes are explosive, exhibiting great writing and steady direction.

Glenn Close delivers a masterful performance as Joan. In her husband’s shadow, Close is convincing as the dutiful wife. She portrays her character in a most convincing manner, whether knowingly flirtatious or a quiet rage that is all in the eyes and expression. Jonathan Pryce is also great as the demanding author. Christian Slater is most welcome in a small role.

The Wife is a tale of simmering resentment, expertly portrayed by Close. An exemplary performance and a consummate drama.

The Wife is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital now.