<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>


Directed by Björn Runge. Starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd, Annie Starke

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes



As run of the mill in direction, story and writing as they come, The Wife sails smoothly thanks to relatively good performances from the main cast.

Joe (Jonathan Pryce) and Joan (Glenn Close) Castleman look like a happy couple when news of Joe’s Nobel Prize in Literature reaches them over the phone. Decades of struggle have paid off and we now watch him and his family celebrate. However, for anyone who has seen the trailer, you’ll already know the secret is that Joe isn’t the great writer he is being celebrated as.


Through the film, Joan is his protector, enabler, support and caregiver. They love each other, that seems evident, but gradually you see cracks forming in their relationship as you are taken back in flashbacks to their youth and how a young, married Professor Castleman (Harry Lloyd) and his student Joan (Annie Starke) have an affair results in their union as husband and wife as well as ‘co-workers’.

Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater) is a cunning writer who has some dirt on the Castleman family and wants to write a tell-all. The thing about it is that we pretty much know all the secrets even before half the movie is done so there’s nothing much to look forward to.


Glenn Close’s subdued but evident emotions show through nicely – lots of pursing of lips – but I still didn’t think this was one of her finest performances, even though she’s already won several awards and will win some more, I’m sure. Slater plays the creep with perfection, as he always does. Strange how this action hero of the 90s is now playing the bad guy.

Nothing ever quite comes together in The Wife. There’s no real resolution or reward for watching the tribulations of these two. Even your sympathy for Joan dissipates when you see her sacrifice for her husband once again. Their son David’s (Max Irons) story is glossed over so you don’t feel his pain the way you should.


The Wife is a message about how women have sacrificed for men all along and continue to do so. More films nowadays are tackling this issue (like Mary Queen of Scots) with a push from feminists and a push back from men who feel maligned when they’re all clubbed together as one bad lot. I just wish this film showed us more about a phoenix rising than the bitterness of the past, which we all see too often in real life.

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