The Wife is an intense, riveting film, says Rashid Irani


  • Direction: Bjorn Runge
  • Actors: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This film helmed by a Scandinavian director is reminiscent, in some ways, of the late-period domestic dramas of Ingmar Bergman. Director Bjorn Runge explores, with bracing honesty, the crisis in the life of a seemingly happy, elderly married couple.

Their outward tranquility is upended following a revelation linked to the husband’s reputation as a Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Accompanied by his supporting spouse (Glenn Close) and aspiring-writer son (Max Irons, son of veteran actor Jeremy Irons), the newly minted laureate (Jonathan Pryce) arrives in Stockholm to attend the awards ceremony.

Annie Starke, Glenn Close’s real-life daughter, plays the young wife who suppresses her own literary talent so that her husband’s can flourish.

Simmering discontent comes to light via flashbacks to their first years together. Besides regretting the suppression of her own literary talent, the wife must also contend with her husband’s philandering ways.

The indiscriminate cutting between present and past is sometimes an irritant. Do we really need to see the couple dancing for joy on their bed on two occasions? But emotional intensity reaches fever pitch in the cathartic final outburst.

Encouragingly, many crucial crew members are women, including the source novelist (Meg Wolitzer), music composer (Jocelyn Pook) and film editor (Lena Runge).

The odds-on favourite for this year’s Best Actress Oscar, Close delivers a riveting performance. Pryce’s character is equally compelling. Overall, The Wife is well worth the price of admission.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 14:42 IST

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