The Wife is a drama directed by Björn Runge and written by Jane Anderson, based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. The film follows a seasoned woman who questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, who is set to receive a prestigious Literary award. Extremely well acted with an interesting resolution to the story. I particularly liked the performances as well as the story.
The Wife opens in the year 1958 when a young Joan Archer (Annie Starke) meets Joseph Castleman (Harry Lloyd), a handsome young married professor at a women-only college. Although he is an accomplished, yet unpublished writer, Joan is awed by Joseph’s forceful personality and his advice, “a writer must write”. Joan also meets a published alumna author named Elaine Mozell (Elizabeth McGovern), whose cynical views on opportunities for female writers disheartens her. Two years later, Joseph has been fired for having an affair with Joan, his marriage is obviously failing, and his first attempt at writing a novel turns out disastrous. Joan who is now a secretary at a publishing house, observes how the all-male editors dismiss women writers. However, when Joan criticizes Joseph’s work, he threatens to end his relationship with her, claiming she cannot love “a hack”. Desperate, Joan agrees to fix Joseph’s novel titled The Walnut, which gets published and becomes a bestseller.
By 1968, Joseph and Joan are living in a large seaside home in Connecticut. Joan is hard at work writing a novel, to be published under Joseph’s name, while Joseph supports her by cooking, cleaning, and caring for their first child, David (Max Irons). As Joseph and Joan converse, it is apparent that Joan’s novel is a reflection of their life together that has taken on a lax luster life style and bores Joan to tears. Over the next four decades, a narcissist Joseph has several adulterous affairs, and tells everyone that Joan “does not write”.
By 1992, an elderly Joseph (Jonathan Pryce) has become a celebrated author and is slated to win a literary award. While Joseph and Joan (Glen Close) are travelling to Stockholm, they meet Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), a biographer with a taste for scandal, who tries to insinuate himself into the Castlemans’ lives.
The remainder of The Wife is quite good. Glen Close is a brilliant actress and has always given performances par with some of the greatest performers I’ve seen. The Wife is a rather short, bitter sweet story that can only have one scurrying for answers. The surprise ending not only gives one school for thought but also directs you into your inner self for comparisons and solutions. Joan’s shattered emotional state becomes apparent to Joseph and he peruses the problem by asking Joan to take a walk and have a meal out while he convinces her that she is merely a ghost writer. When his son ask for help with a short story he’s writing, Joseph is unable to help because he’s incapable but his son doesn’t know his mother has been doing all the writing. How this movie ends will leave you intrigued and maybe a little angry. You’ll have to see it to know. Check It Out!
[The Wife is Oscar nominated for Best Actress]