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The Wife

Björn Runge

The age old saying, ‘Behind every great man is a woman’ is explored in fascinating detail in The Wife. Adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s book, this engrossing story follows a charismatic world-famous writer and his long-suffering wife whose marriage is thrown into turmoil when he is awarded the prize they have long been hoping for. Glenn Close is surely one of the early front-runners for the Best Actress Oscar with this quiet but fierce performance.

“Glenn Close is surely one of the early front-runners for the Best Actress Oscar…”

On the surface, the Castlemans are the envy of the literary world. When the call comes in the early hours of the morning announcing that Joe (Jonathan Pryce) will be awarded the Nobel prize for Literature, he is quick to thank his wife, Joan (Close) and family for their years of support for his writing. But as they travel to Sweden for the award ceremony, cracks begin to appear in the façade of their perfect family. There is already a frisson of tension between the couple when, on board their flight to Stockholm, Nathaniel (Christian Slater), a pushy writer who hopes to be Joe’s biographer, shoulders his way into their space to talk across Joan and offer his congratulations to Joe. In the seat behind them is their son David (Max Irons), sulking because his father refuses to endorse the short story he just wrote. As the build-up begins towards the prize giving, all the sacrifices made to ensure that Joe Castleman could become the ‘great American novelist’ start to surface. Through the small details of the couple’s interactions, Close and Pryce perfectly capture the years of infidelity and simmering resentment, and also the tolerance and understanding built up over a lifetime together.

The Wife is also a fascinating glimpse into the life of a writer, the circus of the literary world, and the casualties of the cult of genius.