Standing in the shadows of her husband’s acclaimed literary career, Glenn Close’s performance of a wife’s late-life crisis is exquisitely multi-layered.
As its title suggests, Joan Castleman (Close) is defined by her role as an esteemed novelist’s wife: her own talent as a writer masked through decades of self-sacrifice. Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Wife is set in Clinton-era 1992, when Joan’s husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) is informed that he has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. As such, a magazine cover will replace Bill Clinton with Joe, setting up parallels between the successful man and supportive wife standing behind him. Leading up to the ceremony in Stockholm, Joan’s desire for recognition begins to emerge. Through flashbacks to her younger self, played by Close’s daughter (Annie Starke) we see how she bonds with Joe (her married professor at the time) over their determination to write. After a lifetime of supporting his success, she warns a fan seeking to be his biographer (Christian Slater) that she is too interesting to be ‘painted as a victim’. A fascinating character, this tense dark comedy explores Joan’s need to reclaim her identity after years of compromise. (Rachel Williams) Lots of big acting but might be fun.