Marital writes… ★★★☆☆ OUT 28 SEPTEMBER
CERTIFICATE 15 DIRECTOR Björn Runge STARRING Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons SCREENPLAY Jane Anderson DISTRIBUTOR Picturehouse RUNNING TIME 100 mins
Thirty-one years after Fatal Attraction’s spousal ructions, Glenn Close is impeccably cast as the power behind her husband’s throne in an otherwise middle-brow drama. Suffering from predictable plotting and strained metaphors, director Björn Runge’s riff on Meg Wolitzer’s novel is absorbing but fusty. Yet Close sharpens its jabs as the wife to a writer who, perhaps problematically, is granted the Nobel Prize for Literature.
On the awards trip to Stockholm, cracks show in the marriage between Close’s caring Joan Castleman and manchild hubby Joe (Jonathan Pryce). As their son (Max Irons) sulks, Joe’s eye roams as it did when Joan was his brilliant student; in clumsy flashbacks, he woos students with James Joyce quotes and behaves brattishly enough to raise questions. Like, why would Joan park her literary talents for this dork?
One explanation comes flimsily draped on Elizabeth McGovern’s otherwise nicely caustic cameo. Meanwhile, Christian Slater cameos as a plot de… sorry, reporter to crowbar in revelatory suggestions. Yet from here, Joan owns the stage. As toxic marital truths emerge, Close rouses the Marquise de Merteuil within and cuts through the clichés: without undue embellishment, she asserts her often underrecognised talent in every piercing glance. Awards interest may follow…
Close empowers this otherwise routine drama: tautly poised, she charges every expression with contained suggestion.
“Just be glad you don’t have any pets, OK.”