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Wife, The


Stars: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Harry Lloyd, Karin Franz Korlof, Elizabeth McGovern

Director: Bjorn L Runge

Although it's quite slow, and one grows tired of its same-y rants and bickering, this film about a life wasted is worth watching for the exquisite acting performances of Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater and especially Glenn Close as the title character. She seems sure to be in the mix come Oscar time.

Joan Castleman (Close), now in her sixties, lives with her acclaimed novelist husband Joe (Pryce), submits from time to time to loveless sex, pushes his infidelities to the back of her mind and generally acts the submissive wife with frozen smile, calmly accepting life as an adjunct to her husband.

Of course, she is just a dam waiting to burst, doing what she can to ameliorate Joe's dismissive attitude towards his son's (Irons) own burgeoning talents as a writer, finding himself unable to do more than damn the boy's work with faint praise.

Then comes the bombshell that will bring everything to the surface: Joe has won the Nobel Prize for literature. At the ceremony in Sweden, Joan sits listening to her husband described as as 'a master of portraying the human condition in all its complexities'.

Of course, the Castlemans have a huge secret and it isn't difficult to guess what it is. Their son has already half-guessed, and a would-be biographer (Slater at his most insidious) tries his best to prise the truth from Joan.

Despite the stars' sustained excellence, however, the continual four-letter cat-fighting of this dystopian family does get on one's nerves. If only they had the kind of dialogue available to them that has won Joe the Nobel Prize.

David Quinlan

USA/Sweden/UK 2017. UK Distributor: Picturehouse. Colour (unspecified).
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 23 Sep 2018