While I was expecting more out of the would-be rom com “Juliet, Naked,” I found another female-led Indie based on a book that is more invigorating and more profound. “The Wife” is the name, and in it, we’ve got a great cast (kudos to Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons, and Christian Slater), admiring literature studies, and riveting secrets that rattles things in motions.
As the film begins, writer Joe Castleman (Pryce) and his wife Joan (Close) are both amazed and delighted to know that he is set to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in Stockholm. They travel with their stoner son David (Irons), who has written a short story that his mother appreciates more than his father. He wants him to work harder, but she thinks it’s amazing.
The movie also jumps back to the early 60’s when Joan (Annie Starke) meets her future husband (Harry Lloyd)-a married professor with a baby-at Smith College, and their affair takes flight. She, too, was a writer with breathtaking words and marvelous characters, but she couldn’t pursue a writing career, because of him. She tells everyone she was too shy and modest to do it, especially when raising two kids with him.
Also in the film is a biographer named Nathaniel (Slater), who travels to Stockholm, as well, and plans to write Joe’s story, but he refuses. But while he is attending his rehearsals, Nathaniel manages to receive a better connection with Joan and David than Joe, but he also hints the real secret behind Joe’s success.
Stay seated, because this is where things get more intriguing and more pulsating.
Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel, written by Jane Anderson (“Oliver Kitteridge,” “It Could Happen to You”), and directed by Bjorn Runge (“Daybreak,” “Mouth to Mouth”), “The Wife” is filled with such gripping emotions, Oscar-caliber performances, and radiant life, it’s impossible to daze off. Close opens our eyes with what her character has gone through, and she dazzles; Pryce is amazing with his personality; Irons gives us emotional thoughts, especially when he argues with his father about their difference and choices; and Slater shines as the biographer with his ambitions. This is a wonderful cast.
There a few unnecessary things, like the final flashback, or some lines, but the movie succeeds in many other things. The dialogue is fresh, the world of literature is challenging, and the tensions are struggling. I’ve seen worse movies of its kind in recent memory, like “The Words” with Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in 2012 or “Third Person” with Liam Neeson and James Franco in 2014. But somehow, “The Wife” does things the correct way, and never loses hope. We almost always get dramas so original, and this is one of them.