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Movie review: Oscar nomination will be Close

Published September 28. 2018 12:27PM

“The Wife” is a disturbing drama with an Oscar nominee-worthy performance by Glenn Close as the long-suffering, supportive and loyal wife of a successful novelist about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

When they receive the early-morning phone call, the couple, Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) and Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), jump for joy on their bed as they did many years before when they were just starting out, he as a college professor and she as one of his graduate students.

At a going-away party at their oceanside New England mansion before they depart to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremonies, tensions in the Castlemans’ marriage begin to emerge.

First, there’s their son, David (Max Irons), an aspiring author who only wants one good review, from his father.

Their daughter, Susannah (Alix Wilton Regan) and her husband, are expecting their first child, and the Castlemans’ first grandchild.

The closer they get to the awards ceremony geographically and chronologically, the more complicated the Castlemans’ marriage and life becomes. For one thing, there’s a pushy would-be biographer of Castleman named Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), with whom the author wants nothing to do with.

The film includes some clumsy flashbacks with Annie Starke as young Joan Castleman (well-cast since she’s a daughter of Glenn Close and producer John H. Starke) and Harold Lloyd (a great-great-great-grandson of author Charles Dickens) as young Joe Castleman. The flashbacks are directed and acted awkwardly, do little to advance the story, and take away valuable screen time from Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce.

However, “The Wife” packs a powerful punch in the final 20 minutes or so with several explosive scenes that build to a climax which will not be revealed here lest it spoil your viewing of the film.

The solid cast includes Elizabeth McGovern, Karin Franz Körlof and Morgane Polanski.

“The Wife” is directed by Björn Runge, a Swedish director of the trilogy, “Happy End” (2011), “Mouth to Mouth” (2005) and “Daybreak” (2003), as well as the acclaimed “Harry och Sonja” (“Harry and Sonja”), 1996.

The screenplay is by Jane Anderson (Emmy recipient, writer, TV’s “Olive Kitteridge,” 2014; she also directed “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” 2005, and is a playwright). The movie is based on the novel “The Wife” by Meg Wolitzer.

“The Wife” builds slowly, almost imperceptibly, with deceptively amusing dialogue. It’s all mixed drinks and mixed messages. A volcanic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966) explosion occurs that is devastating, harrowing and emotionally draining.

“The Wife” is an emotional tennis match between the Castlemans. Pryce underplays the performance with a few exceptions when he unleashes scorn without warning.

It’s Close’s movie all the way, though. She stews and smolders and soldiers on, that is until she proves the adage, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Close has been nominated for six Oscars (lead actress: “Albert Nobbs,” 2011; “Dangerous Liaisons,” 1988; “Fatal Attraction,” 1987; supporting actress: “The Natural,” 1984; “The Big Chill,” 1983; “The World According to Garp,” 1982). A probable seventh Oscar nomination may be Glenn Close’s lucky number.

“The Wife,” MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for language and some sexual content; Genre: Drama. Run time: 1 hr., 40 min.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Joe Cocker’s “Do I Still Figure in Your Life” is heard in a scene in “The Wife.”

Box Office, Sept. 21: It was time for Jack Black and Cate Blanchett in “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” to open at No. 1, with $26.9 million, dropping “The Predator” from its No. 1 perch to No. 4, with $8.7 million, $40.4 million, two weeks, with “A Simple Favor” rising one place to No. 2, with $10.4 million, $32.6 million, two weeks, and “The Nun” dropping one place to No. 3, with $10.3 million, $100.9 million, three weeks.

5. “Crazy Rich Asians” stayed in place, becoming the seventh biggest-grossing romantic comedy ever, with $6.5 million, $159.4 million, six weeks. 6. “White Boy Rick” dropped two places, $5 million, $17.4 million, two weeks. 7. “Peppermint” dropped one place, $3.7 million, $30.3 million, three weeks. 8. “Fahrenheit 11/9” opened with $3.1 million. 9. “The Meg” dropped two places, $2.4 million, $140.5 million, seven weeks. 10. “Searching” dropped two places, $2.2 million, $23.1 million, five weeks.

Unreel, Sept. 28:

“Night School,” PG-13: Malcolm D. Lee directs Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Brooke Butler, and Keith David in the comedy. Malcontents must attend night school to receive GEDs to complete high school.

“Smallfoot,” PG: Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig direct the voice talents of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, and Common in the animated comedy. A bigfoot animal is convinced that humans exist.

“Hell Fest,” R: Gregory Plotkin directs Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, Tony Todd and Amy Forsyth in the horror film. A killer turns loose on an amusement park where the patrons think it’s part of the show.

“The Old Man & the Gun,” PG-13: David Lowery directs Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, and Danny Glover in the comedy drama. At the age of 70, Forrest Tucker escaped from San Quentin and went on a string of heists. The movie is based on a true story.

“Little Women,” PG-13: Clare Niederpruem directs Lea Thompson, Ian Bohen, Lucas Grabeel and Melanie Stone in the drama. It’s a modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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