The Wife Movie Review: Glenn Close Does Career-Best Work

Glenn Close is a quiet force of nature in a masterfully written and well-acted gem.
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There’s no denying that Glenn Close is one of our greatest living actresses. Her career spans 30 years and she’s been a mainstay on the silver screen, the small screen, and the stage. Also, after losing at the Oscars a staggering six times, it feels like her moment may finally arise with The Wife. Much like how her character demands people to hear her voice, Glenn Close shall make voters finally take notice of her genius talent this time around.

In The Wife, Glenn Close plays Joan, the wife of a famed writer named Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). When Joseph receives news that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, both he and Joan travel to Stockholm for the ceremony along with their son David (Max Irons). However, dark secrets surrounding their marriage begin to unravel once the ceremony gets closer. Especially when a ruthless journalist (Christian Slater) looking to write a biography on Joseph’s life enters the picture.

When the film first opens, it seems like they’re in a happy marriage. When they first receive the news about the Nobel Prize, they’re jumping up and down on their bed with absolute joy. They seem like a solicitous couple with a youthful spirit until we learn more about them and even discover how their marriage began. But that deceptive opening scene is masterfully orchestrated by the screenplay written by Jane Anderson.

Much like our main character, I feel like Jane Anderson is bound to be an unsung hero. The film may be a strong acting showcase for Glenn Close but Jane Anderson’s script brilliantly captures the gender politics of Joan’s younger years and how Joan slowly finds her voice after being kept quiet for so long. She put her dreams to become a writer aside years ago to nurture the career of her husband. A decision that she comes to grips with as the film progresses.

As for Glenn Close, the woman who brings the complex character of Joan to life, she manages to do some of the best work of her career. While Joan may be a woman of few words, Close showcases the rampant feelings she has with her expressive face. Even though Joan says that she’s content with sacrificing her dreams, it becomes evident that she’s lying to herself because Close expertly demonstrates her denial with a slight, heartbreaking look.

The rest of the cast manages to deliver as well, though. Jonathan Pryce matches Close tit for tat as Joseph, Joan’s supportive yet demeaning husband; Max Irons is a standout as David, processing the revelations of his parents’ marriage in a heartbreaking manner; and Christian Slater provides sly charm as Nathaniel, the journalist aching for a good story. During one particular scene where Joan and Nathaniel converse over his plans to write Joseph’s biography, both Close and Slater develop a rather sensual chemistry. Even though they’re mainly exchanging looks, you get a sense that particular passions will maybe start to erupt.  

In conclusion, The Wife is not just a showcase for Glenn Close but it is a strong showcase for the rest of the cast as well. It’s also a well-written masterpiece that demonstrates the heartbreak of sacrificing your dreams and how it’s never too late to find your voice. It’s a truly remarkable gem and if Glenn Close won her overdue Oscar, it’d be a way to honor both her flawless performance and her amazing career.

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