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Artist's Wife, The


Stars: Lena Olin, Bruce Dern, Juliet Rylance, Avan Jogia, Stefanie Powers

Director: Tom Dolby

This is quite a touching examination of the latter stages of a successful marriage. Cantankerous old abstract artist Richard (Dern), now in his eighties and steadily diminished by advancing dementia, struggles to finish his final exhibition, while his 20-years-younger wife Claire (Olin), herself once a painter of note, has long ago abandoned her career to assist her husband. She, too, is none too compos mentis judging by her fumbles with modern technology.

Despite his ever more frequent expletive-filled outbursts, one of which gets him sacked from his lecturing post at a school, theirs is a loving relationship, marred by Richard's estrangement from his gay daughter (Rylance) who, now with a son by a surrogate, has just been deserted by her long-term partner.

Claire tries to effect a reconciliation between father and daughter, and is also clearly headed for a fling with the daughter's hunky bearded child-minder (Jogia). This would seem rather far-fetched, were it not for the fact that, as Olin has already shown us in a previous scene, she still, at 63, has a figure that would be the envy of women half her age.

Despite Richard introducing her to friends as Swedish, Olin's mastery of an American accent is well-nigh perfect, as are the performances in this sensitive and affectionate portrait of old age and its problems, even if a nude scene involving former Hollywood star Powers does seem somewhat extraneous.

Available on most digital platforms

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour by Company 3.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Apr 2021