The Wife movie Review: It Has Nothing Except Glen Close

The Wife

Starring: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater

Directed by: Bjorn Runge

Rating:**(2 stars)

Nothing is  more saddening  than to  see a mediocre  film being elevated to  a  masterly  event just because  the central performance is powerful enough to make one forget the shallowness and  other shortcomings of  an  inherently  faulty  post-feminist treatise  on  power usurpation  in a marriage of equals.

 Glenn Close who once scared the hell out of Michaal Douglas  by chasing him down to his knees in Fatal Attraction , here settles   for  her  Significant  Other’s full annihilation , no less.

His crime?  Appropriation  of  his wife’e creativity  for 40 years.No less.

The  film opens with  eminent author Prof Joseph Castleman(Jonathan Pryce) winning the Nobel  Prize for literature. Somehow his  wife Joan doesn’t seem  too pleased.Could it be  the  chicken that they ate for dinner  the  previous night? Or the sex  they had thereafter?? Something doesn’t agree with her.And we soon know what it is.Hint: she is  a writer.

Prof Castleman  is  a certifiable fraud  vandalizing his wife’s writing, raping her mind  and  using her talent to make  a name for herself.Villains do not always sport horns.

All this would have made a great satire.Instead  director Bjorn Runge  sets  the table for two for a dreadfully  somber dinner . Glenn, determined   to Close  in on that elusive Oscar, pulls out all stops to  portray the wronged wife who just won’t stay quiet anymore. Nobel, here I come.

Quite honestly I thought Jonathan Pryce as  the  husband  was  priceless. More so , since  the  odds are  systematically stacked against him. His wife hates him for taking away her  creativity . His son David(Max Irons) sulks hard against Daddy’s  patriarchal tyranny that seems to smother  every  domestic joy.And then there  is this nosy biographer played by Christian Slater,  running around trying to get the real story  out of the wife. Dutiful and devoted to the end, Glenn Close isn’t squealing. The drama of exposure happens in the  privacy of their bedroom. Dirty secrets are so much more fun than kinky sex.

Pryce is clearly playing a  man we are all meant to hate. Yet he manages to extend a core of  dignity to  his wretchedly treacherous  character, much as the script  tries to pull him down to the level of an intellectual mongrel.

 The  plot is unconvincing, to say the  least. How can  any man fool the literary world  for  four decades?And why did his intellectually savvy wife allow it? What would have happened if she had exposed  him  early in his thieving  career? Did she  do it for love? Love of what? Self-torture and martyrdom?

The  film is way too shrill in tone.Perhaps trying  to fit into the current  trend for MeToovictims, it shreds  the reputation of   the Nobel laureate and makes the wife trample on his ego .The war dance is  more embarrassing than  revealing. This is a film that showcases its lead actress’  talents and forgets to light up  the  corners  beyond the arc lit heroine.

Joan  of Ugh.                                                                                                                         

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