Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Film: 'The Wife'

I'd been looking forward to this enormously - and wasn't let down in the least. It's a searing piece of family melodrama, played to perfection by Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close (whose film this really is, as the title infers) as a long-married couple, and Max Irons (son of Jeremy I.) playing their son - with Christian Slater as a smarmy reporter who captures a character somewhere midway between plain annoying and obnoxious.

It's set almost entirely in Stockholm in a plush hotel where Pryce, a successful author, is there with his wife and son to collect his newly awarded Nobel Prize for Literature. In a brief prologue to their journey to Sweden, set in their Connecticut home in 1992, we see Pryce getting the phone call telling him of his award, with Close joining in his celebratory mood. However, there's the occasional subtle look on her face hinting that there's something flickering underneath her going along with his jubilant mood. Their son is also an aspiring writer, though he feels that, unlike his mother, his father is holding back on the effusive praise he'd been looking for. All the submerged feelings come out in the ensuing days. Flashbacks to the older couple's early days of acquaintanceship and relationship, culminating in their marriage are depicted (their younger selves played by Harry Lloyd and Annie Stark).  
As pent-up truths and repressed feelings come to the surface in Sweden, blazing rows ensue between Close and Pryce as well as a major confrontation with the son - such anger and venom reminding me strongly of Burton and Taylor in 'Who's Afraid.....', though in the latters' case it's been said that they were just playing out the hideous vituperation which regularly came between them in real life (so if that was true, they didn't have much acting to do!?)  In the case of Close and Pryce, though, they really have to go for it hammer and tongs, and that they most certainly do!

If Jonathan Pryce is good (which he definitely is) Glenn Close is an absolute marvel - easily one of her best ever performances on screen, if not the best. She can capture the most nuanced change of mood in her features without saying a word, and it's a treat to watch. She's definitely one of my very favourite of the more 'mature' actresses currently around.

Director is Swede Bjorn Runge, who creates a practically flawless piece within a manageable slightly over 90 mins, based on book by Meg Walitzer and screenplay by Jane Anderson. 

If you like the idea of a small-scale, family drama with home truths exploding, their having been kept a lid on for decades, I cannot recommend this highly enough - and if you're as much a fan of Glenn Close as I am, well, that ought to clinch it. Bliss!...............8

8 comments:

  1. That sounds like a really good film and one I will watch when it comes my way. I have just started reading your reviews and have gone back through the recent ones to catch up. It is interesting when John, Rachel and yourself review the same film and I can get a good comparison of what the three of you like and what I might like myself. This one definitely sounds like a "must see".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Carol.Just as well you've caught my blog before I start winding on posting my reviews, though there'll be a few months yet before the reduction gets significant.
      John (JayGee), Rachel and I don't agree all the time on particular films (thank goodness!) but I think the general direction of our opinions is congruent more times than otherwise.
      You already know now what this film is about and it obviously hasn't turned you off, so I do hope you catch it and are impressed by it as much as I and Rachel were.

      Delete
  2. We are in full agreement. I am glad about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, Rachel - with more than a little relief on my side, recalling how much you really liked it.

      Delete
  3. This is most definitely my cup of tea. I love Close, although she did disappoint me when she played Agnes "In A Delicate Balance." Call me weird, but I loved "Who's Afraid ..."especially Taylor's delivery of her lines. I didn't want the battle to end. Looking forward to Close's and Pryce's scenes.

    With a score of '8' and also the addition of 'Bliss' I have a feeling this might find it's way on your end-of-year list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your last assumption, Paul - it's a dead cert! But at what placing? Don't know myself yet - and Heaven only knows what's still to come in the next few weeks.

      I love 'Who's Afraid' too. I must have a clear penchant for films showing viciously squabbling couples. They intrigue me so. Perhaps it's something to do with my never having been part of a couple in my own life - though I have had had my share of hellish rows!

      Had to look up 'Delicate Balance' to remind me what it was. Sounds like the sort of play that also would have been right up my street, notwithstanding your disappointment with Glenn C. (Over here that part was played by Imelda Staunton. I don't think it ran for very long.)
      I reckon you'll have no complaints with Close's contribution to this film, with all the focus of the piece rightfully on her attitude to being constantly expected to play second fiddle to her husband. A quite superb performance it was.

      Delete
  4. oh that does sound like a good one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you in your work haven't had too much of warring couples, then (and only then) would I recommend this to you.

      Delete