THE WIFE

Mar­i­tal writes… ★★★☆☆ OUT 28 SEPTEM­BER

Total Film - - Big Screen - Kevin Har­ley

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…

THE VER­DICT

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.”

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