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Film Review: ‘The Wife’ is Classic Drama & Relevant Social History

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – One of the more fascinating questions about civilization is ‘how much talent went unrealized because of time and place of birth?’ The patriarchy – which denied people of color and women for so long – often reduced fellow travelers into subservient roles. For example, there were women who were just known as “The Wife.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

The latest film with that title, adapted from a novel with the same name by Meg Wolitzer, is a classic drama about roles in a marriage, which were more delineated in the era the featured couple was married… the late 1950s. This plays out, in flashback and the present, as the husband wins the Nobel Prize for literature. And in this case, the wife is in the background, but as the story develops there are certain truths that have defined their marriage, and those unburied facts unearth counterproductive feelings as the ceremony swirls around them. All couples have secrets, but some secrets smolder so long that when they emerge they are explosive and damaging. This is one such story, but it comes with several twists. This absorbing narrative is fascinating (and universal) and the film is a Must See, especially if literature is your bag.

Glenn Close is Joan, the dutiful wife of Joe (Jonathan Pryce), who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. They travel to Stockholm for the awards ceremony with their son David (Max Irons), an aspiring writer looking for his father’s approval. There is a simmering resentment within the group, egged on by an outsider named Nathaniel (Christian Slater), a writer who is trying to be Joe’s biographer.

As the interactions occur, there are flashbacks to the early days of the couple’s courtship and marriage, when the supportive wife and fledgling writer tried to navigate the competitive (and male) world of publishing. Joe is shown to be impulsive, negative and quick-to-give-up, but it is Joan who pushes him over the finish line. Back in the present day, it is Joan that also has to suffer the burden of those early days as her husband collects literature’s top prize.

“The Wife” continues its nationwide release in Chicago on August 24th. See local listings for theaters and showtimes. Featuring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons, Christian Slater and Elizabeth McGovern. Screenplay adapted by Jane Anderson, from a novel by Meg Wolitzer. Directed by Björn Runge. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Wife”

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Joan (Glenn Close) Contemplates Her Fate in ‘The Wife’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Wife”

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