One knows that summer will come soon to its end when brainless films are no longer exclusively occupying the list of weekly premieres in cinemas. It must be about time as ‘The Wife‘ which premiered this week is the first interesting new film I have seen on the big screens in months. It’s not a masterpiece, but a film that tells an interesting story (based on a novel by Meg Wolitzer) with compelling characters and and brings up sensitive issues. It is also the film that proposes the first solid contender for the Best Actress in a lead role at the next edition of the Academy Awards. Write it down: I put my bet on Glenn Close being among the five nominees waiting for the announcement next February.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3750872/

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3750872/

 

Joseph Castleman  ( Jonathan Pryce) is an American writer of Jewish origin who receives the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 (thinking about Philip Roth who died a few months ago without having received the award is inevitable). Joan (Glenn Close) is as they say in the thanking speeches his ‘better half’. It’s just that as they are traveling to Stockholm and they are preparing to attend the famous ceremony, she does not want to be mentioned and thanked in the speech as the supporting wife. She has good reasons for this, as we shall learn in a development of the story that describes the few days preceding and the day of the ceremony but also brings back flashes from the history of their relationship and of his writing career.

 

(video source Sony Pictures Classics)

 

I liked the story and the way the heroes are being introduced and their personalities develop. Beside Joseph and Joan we also meet their son who is an aspiring writer fighting to find his own path (Max Irons, the son of) and the unauthorized biographer (played by the excellent Christian Slater) who is digging for sensational dirt in the life of the writer. Glenn Close is fabulous,but I found Jonathan Pryce somehow lacking the stamina that is assumed to be dominating for his character. The story brings up interesting issues related to the pains of writing, to creativity and authorship, and to the place of women in the world of literature, but the Swedish director Björn Runge explains a little bit too much to my taste. The formidable scene of confrontation of the couple to the final is very well filmed, with nervous takes of hand-held camera, just to be followed by a very conventional and expected conclusion. It’s like the director was concerned that the film will look ‘too European’ for the American audiences. ‘The Wife‘ could have been a memorable film. As it is, it will be remembered mostly for Glenn Close’s acting performance and for the frozen Stockholm images enveloping the Nobel Prize ceremony festivities.