I had no idea what I was in for when I put my review copy of The Wife into the Blu-ray player the other night. All I knew was that Glenn Close had taken home the Golden Globe for her portrayal of Joan Castleman, and that she had shared the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actress with Lady Gaga. I’m glad I went in blind, as The Wife wound up being one of the more moving films I’ve seen in quite some time.
For simplicities sake, the movie is the story of Joan and her husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce), who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The film, directed by Björn Runge and written by Jane Anderson, based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, via flashbacks, details their relationship, and the impact Joan has on Joe’s career and accolades.
Saying any more would give the film’s largest reveal away, though to be fair, it’s not particularly surprising when it occurs. In fact, it’s pretty predictable. The Wife isn’t about surprise; it’s about performance, in which all the leads are exceptional.
Pryce and Close easily depict the cliche of an old married couple, with Close’s Joan the more sensible and empathetic of the two. Pryce’s Joe is egocentric and at times oblivious to his wife’s thoughts and needs. The two of them are dynamic together, and while Close has deservedly been at the forefront of accolades as the title character, Pryce holds his own in her presence. But Close is amazing, as good as you may have heard. There are scenes where she conveys such angst and anger with the slightest of facial gestures and body movement. She is riveting and helps lift the film above its slightly predictable script.
Ironically, The Wife is also about writing, the art of it, and the solitary nature of creation. How, even when you have family around, when it comes to doing the work, it’s you, your writing tool, and the thoughts in your head. I didn’t expect to see this so thoughtfully depicted when I put the film on.
There’s a likely chance Glenn Closes will win her first Oscar after six nominations this year for The Wife. It’s worth watching the film to see why it will be so deserved.
The Wife is available now on Digital and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.