Behind a great man

At first glance, The Wife (Rialto and Metro) seems a straightforward story of how barren life can be living in the shadow of a great man.

 

THE WIFE

Director: Bjorn Runge
Cast: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd, Annie Starke, Elizabeth McGovern, Karin Franz Korlor
Rating: (M)
★★★★ (out of five)

 

Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) tries her best to be self-contained and content, but her annoyance at being turned into a combination handmaiden/nurse for her literary lion husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce), who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, is there for all who bother to look.

The Castlemans have been partners in all senses of the word for more than 30 years and, while they still love each other, they have racked up plenty of grievances and points of contention over that period.

The Nobel Prize should be the crowning glory of their marriage, but instead all the palaver surrounding the ceremony in Stockholm acts as a lightning rod for Joan’s disenchantment. Adding to the mix, they are accompanied by their son David (Max Irons), who is an aspiring writer himself and veers between longing for his father’s approval and hating him for being so successful. 

Joan tries to smooth things over, but David and Joe seem unable to be in each other’s company without fighting.

For Joan, it is almost a relief when Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), a pushy young man who is attempting to write Joe’s biography, turns up. Nathaniel is full of interesting theories about who is the real writer in the Castleman marriage, which Joan is determined to quash, but at least he sees her as a person in her own right.

- Christine Powley

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