Feb 7, 2019
The 400th episode love keeps pouring in, and we’re lucky to have our second review from @PhillyFilmFan, aka Keith Lyons. It’s hard to tell if this year will be Glenn Close’s year, given the amazing, and not so amazing Oscar contenders. Keith will let us know his thoughts in a bit, but in the meantime, if you want to check out our other Oscar nominee reviews, search using #Oscars2019 or head over to onemoviepunch.com and search on the Oscars 2019 blog tag.
Take it away, Keith!
Hi there, Philly Film Fan here with another review for One Movie Punch! You may know me from Twitter, where I write about movies.
Today’s movie is “The Wife” (2018), the film directed by Björn Runge and written by Jane Anderson, based on the novel by Meg Wolitzer. Glenn Close earned her seventh Academy Award nomination for this film and a chance of winning a dubious honor: Becoming the actress with the most Oscar nominations without a single trophy. She is currently tied with Deborah Kerr’s six losses.
“The Wife” opens with Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), in bed waiting for a call from the Nobel Committee. Joe is an author in the mode of Philip Roth and is nervous to find out if he’s getting the award for literature. Beside him, as always, is his wife Jane (Glenn Close). The call comes and, of course, Joe receives the award. The couple is thrilled but Jane’s enthusiasm curdles when Joe jumps on the bed and yells, “I won the Nobel Prize!” This is our first glimpse beneath the surface of their relationship and the many matters left unsaid.
Joe and Jane travel to Sweden accompanied by their son, David (Max Irons), and a would-be biographer, Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater). Family conflicts, intrusions from Nathaniel, and run-ins with representatives of the Nobel committee follow. But the plot here is secondary. This film exists to be an acting showcase for the two leads. Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce are both veteran performers who can really sink their teeth into these roles. The characters are complicated with motives that aren’t always clear, giving Close and Pryce the opportunity to play subtle emotions that illustrate the subtext in the dialogue. Of course, both performers are also given the chance to indulge themselves in those shouty, scenery-chewing exchanges that awards voters love to reward.
Close and Pryce have such a dynamic chemistry that every scene that doesn’t revolve around them brings the film to a screeching halt. David’s daddy issues, Nathaniel’s cat and mouse game, and Joe’s attempted seduction of a much younger photographer can’t help but feel like dead weight. Worst of all are the flashback scenes of a young Joe and Jane played by different actors. Glenn Close’s real-life daughter, Annie Starke, and Harry Lloyd can’t hold a candle to their senior counterparts. The only saving grace to these flashbacks is an inspired performance by Elizabeth McGovern as jaded writer Elaine Mozell who goes on a drunken, bitter tirade against the misogyny of the publishing industry.
“The Wife” is a character study driven by two powerhouse performances from Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a whole lot else to offer. Devotees of either of the stars, along with Oscar completists, will want to catch this film. Everyone else can safely skip it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 6.5/10
“The Wife” (2018) is rated R and is currently playing in select theaters
This jawn was brought to you by Philly Film Fan. For more movie reviews, follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan where I’m participating in the #365Movies challenge. That’s @-P-H-I-L-L-Y-F-I-L-M-F-A-N.