The Williams Lake Film Club’s next film on its roster features the Oscar-nominated performance of Glenn Close in The Wife, a critically acclaimed drama.
Glenn Close was widely expected to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in The Wife at the 91st Academy Awards – and she was officially nominated January 22nd. The Williams Lake Film Club is thrilled to be screening The Wife this Friday, February 8th at the Gibraltar Room.
The Wife chronicles the nearly 40-year relationship between Joan (Glenn Close) and her famous novelist husband Joe Castleman (played by accomplished British theatre actor Jonathan Pryce). Joan is reserved, introverted, controlled, and elegant, whereas Joe is extroverted, vain, arrogant, charming, perhaps narcissistic, and unable to manage the intricacies of his life without his wife’s steady, but largely invisible, influence. Through flashback sequences (the younger Joan is played by Close’s real-life daughter Annie Starke), we get to witness the beginning of their relationship in the 1950s at Smith College, when as a student Joan becomes smitten with Joe, her married creative writing professor.
We also see that Joan has sacrificed her own literary ambitions, passions and career for that of her husband. Over the years, Joan doesn’t complain – she is there to offer practical – almost maternal – guidance, devotion, and acceptance, and largely forgives Joe’s selfish behavior, which includes infidelities.
When asked about how she first reacted to the character of Joan, Close says “I was intrigued by [her]. I didn’t understand why she did what she did, because I think every female reaction would be, “Just leave him!” So I went into it with that question and step by step started to formulate an understanding and really love her. Figuring out her complicity in the relationship and how from the very beginning she didn’t want to lose him,” (New York Times 2018).
Now in their 70s, although the loving bond between Joe and Joan is clear, their relationship dramatically shifts when Joe – who is an enormously successful writer – is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the couple travels with their adult son David (played by Max Irons) to accept the award in Stockholm. David, who aspires to be a writer himself, never gets the attention and approval he craves from his father.
The flashback sequences are often driven by the character of Nathaniel Bone (played by Christian Slater), an aggressive and insistent journalist who wants to write Joe Castleman’s biography. His interviews with Joan about her furtive past with Joe, and her own literary aspirations, are the driving narrative force of the film. When Joan finds her forbearance and patience finally pushed to the edge, the simmering anger, resentment and bitterness that has been building over the years comes crashing to the forefront.
The Wife was astutely adapted by screenwriter Jane Anderson from the 2003 novel of the same name, by Meg Wolitzer. In his first English feature film, Swedish Director Björn Runge makes fantastic use of close-ups to catch the minutiae detail of the exquisite performances by both the lead actors. Rather than a film about camera angles or effects for Runge this is a film about performance.
Both Close and Pryce are accomplished in live theatre, and they developed a rapport with each other on set immediately. When asked how it was working with Close, Pryce recalls “Oh, it was great. Really great. We’ve both been in the business as long as each other and it’s great that we go between film and theater. There was a lot of mutual respect and trust between us, and it enabled us to be quite organic in the choices that we made on set about the characters. It was a delight. I loved it,” (AV Club 2018).
Whether Close will win the Oscar, we will just have to see. If the critics have anything to say about it, she deserves it. As reviewer Zoe Margolis from Cinevue notes, “Close’s performance here surely must finally provide her with the Oscar she has deserved for so many years; the suppressed resentment which slowly builds up on her face steadily throughout the film is a masterclass on-screen acting.” (Cinevue 2018).
Tickets for the Gibraltar Room showing are $12. Advance tickets are for sale at the Open Book, and tickets will be purchasable at the door. Doors open at 6:30, and the film begins at 7 pm.