The Wife

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
The Wife

Glenn Close is typically brilliant as the titular wife in a tale of a marriage cracking under the pressures of fame, neediness and revenge.

Glenn Close is the power behind the throne in this absorbing study of a complex marriage. She’s Joan, the wife of a feted novelist, Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), who’s soon to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Together with their sulky son David (Max Irons), the American couple fly to Stockholm for a whirlwind of press, functions and rehearsals – but the most telling moments happen when they're alone together in their hotel room.

While Meg Wolitzer’s source novel is written in Joan’s voice, ‘The Wife’ resists narration and allows Joan to internalise her feelings, ranging from affection, concern and duty to bitterness and rage. It’s a smart move: Close’s piercing eyes dart around with telling expressions while Joe blusters on obliviously, enjoying the attention of sycophants. Not much, though, gets past Nathaniel (Christian Slater), a writer planning a biography on Joe. He shadows the couple and waits for his moment to pounce. Slater gives what could have been a stereotypical role plenty of spark, and his scenes with Close are riveting. ‘The Wife’ is also very funny, not least when the Castlemans are woken by a group of traditional singers belting out ‘Santa Lucia’ around their bed.

Less successful are the flashbacks to the couple’s past in the late 50s. The younger Joe (Harry Lloyd) doesn’t seem nearly charismatic enough to sweep Joan (Annie Starke) off her feet. That said, these scenes play an important part in a story with a satisfying sting in its tail, one that makes ‘The Wife’ feel especially relevant today.

By: Anna Smith


Release details

Release date:
Friday September 28 2018
100 mins

Cast and crew

Björn Runge
Jane Anderson
Glenn Close
Jonathan Pryce
Christian Slater

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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And the Nobel prize for literature goes to, and where do the prize winners family fit in ? This is a well made, well acted drama which is satisfying up to a point. My only problem is it is a little too simple to be really satisfying, I would like to have been a bit more surprised at the outcome.


Very powerful and emotional, it really gets you thinking about big issues like marriage, a husband and a wife's role within it and power in general. It speaks about gender, how roles have shifted in society throughout the last century and created some very good questions. I found it very though provoking and that's always a good quality in a film. Excellent performances by the whole cast and Glenn Close was magnificent! 

A film not suited to be a film but rather a stage play..It's non cinematic feel dilutes the power of the narrative. Pyrce is a fine actor but again his performance is pure stage driven.To compensate for the lack of cinematic visuals the whole film has a veneer of sentimentality,but it is still quite dry in feel..The story is interesting and the acting is good but it only partially works on the big screen..

Surprised to see this critically acclaimed film appearing in the local multiplex among the assorted popcorn bucket and coke glugging fodder. 

So we made an increasingly rare visit to our local Cineworld and to give the place full credit, after some of the uncomfortable and distant arthouses one must seek out, it is a pleasure to have a first-class screen, sound track and body-friendly seat.

The movie concerns a Jewish American novelist being awarded the Nobel Lit prize and as the film moves on towards a flight to Stockholm for the occasion, there are hints that not all has been hunky-dory between the novelist and his long-time wife, both played superbly by Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close.

Close has been lauded as a potential Oscar candidate for her performance but Pryce is equally good if not better as the ageing and self-regarding writer.

It would be unfair to give away to much of the intricate plot here but for me, the film loses a star for the unlikely extent of the wife’s contribution to the novelist’s genius.

Nevertheless well worth a look whether you agree or not.