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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR STARS Skeletons burst from the closet when an acclaimed novelist accepts his Nobel Prize for Literature.

Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce


Let’s cut to the chase - just give Glenn Close an Oscar now. As Joan Castleman, the long-suffering wife of a successful novelist, her master-class in acting is simply magnificent; not for what she does, but for what she doesn’t do. Less is always so much more and the restraint, pause and self-control in which she wraps her character, those meaningful looks and quiet remarks, tell us everything about Joan with hardly a word spoken.

That’s not to say that Joan is invisible, she’s simply chosen to step into the shadow cast by her rather brilliant husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce). He must be brilliant, the novelist has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and he, Joan and their son David are off to Stockholm. Along for the ride is a would-be biographer (Christian Slater) who desperately wants to tell Joe’s story. We’re beginning to get a greater sense of the couple, their story related in flashback. It’s one that’s starting to make sense of David’s sulkiness and Joan’s growing irritation.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Meg Wolitzer and adapted by two-times Emmy winner Jane Anderson, THE WIFE is sensational with Close a tour de force. At its heart this is a story confronting the lies we tell ourselves to get by and the damage that invariably inflicts. Naturally there is a sizeable skeleton in the Castleman’s closet, one that the nosy biographer has got wind of. As the storm brews, there’s no escaping the tangible honesty of the anger which leaves you feeling like an intruder or, worse, the panicky child who can’t make mum and dad stop fighting. Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe the feelings Close and Pryce pull from your pleading heart.

Once irritation foments uncontrollable resentment, Joan finally lets go and in Close’s tender care, that ticking time-bomb explodes with exquisite precision. THE WIFE is more than an emotional car crash. It’s a warning shot for anyone hiding in the shadows, anyone who fails to take responsibility for decisions made and lives lived. As Joe and Joan finally acknowledge, the consequences of such choices can reach far and wide. It’s also a welcome if brutal reminder that it’s never too late.

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