January 28, 2019  (Web Review)

The Wife

Sony, 100 min., R, DVD: $30.99, Blu-ray: $39.99, Jan. 29

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Glenn Close delivers a stunning Oscar-nominated performance as a long-suffering woman who’s fed up with standing in her celebrated husband’s shadow. As the story opens, Joan (Close) and her husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) are eagerly awaiting an early morning phone call confirming that he has won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature. En route to the ceremony in Sweden, Joan recalls (in flashbacks) their long road from Smith College to Stockholm. In the late 1950s, she was an extraordinarily promising creative writing student who had an affair with pompous, philandering English Lit professor Joe Castleman. And it was only after they were married that Joe’s distinguished career took off. As Joan listens with a tight-lipped smile to people extolling Joe for reinventing the nature of storytelling, her inscrutable face barely reflects perceptible pride, mixed with resentful bitterness, and disbelief tinged by jealousy. Close’s nuanced performance is close to miraculous in its subtlety. When asked what she does, Joan enigmatically replies, “I am a kingmaker.” Only Joe’s persistently smarmy biographer, Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), guesses Joan’s secret complicity in Joe’s success. An adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s provocative 2003 novel, this calculating drama from director Björn Runge adds credibility by casting Close’s real-life daughter Annie Starke as young Joan. As a self-effacing enabler, six-time nominee Close may finally win an Oscar. Recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include an “In Conversation” cast segment (38 min.), a Q&A with Oscar nominee Glenn Close and author Meg Wolitzer (17 min.), and a “Keeping Secrets” segment with Close (7 min.). Bottom line: a fine extras package for this compelling drama anchored by a stellar performance by Close.] (S. Granger)