The Wife expanded to 150 theaters the weekend of January 11, following Glenn Close’s win for Best Actress at the Golden Globes. Sony Pictures Classics re-released the film after its initial August run the same weekend Close tied Lady Gaga for Best Actress at the 24th Annual Critics Choice Awards January 13. At both ceremonies, she used her speech as an opportunity to talk about celebrating women.
“We celebrate each other,” she said about sharing her award with another winner. At the Globes, she talked about her own mother, who wrongfully felt like she never really accomplished anything.
“I feel like what I’ve learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us,” Close said. “We have our children, we have our husbands if we’re lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, ‘I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.’”
The Wife celebrates women in its own quiet way. From novelist Meg Wolitzer and screenwriter Jane Anderson, this story of Joan Castleman travelling to Stockholm, Sweden to watch her husband receive the Nobel Prize in literature is compelling and heartbreaking. Anderson’s script moves backward in time to a young Joan (played by Close’s daughter Annie Starke) and John in the late 1950s when they were both aspiring writers, and though the plot is intriguing, it’s Close’s performance that makes The Wife so memorable. Every thought and feeling is evident on her face – including those thoughts and feelings her character is trying desperately to hide. When dialogue is sparing – which it mercifully is, at times – Close takes up the reigns of the story with her silence.
But it’s when she can no longer remain silent that the film truly takes hold of the audience, when Joan speaks for so many women who might not be able to speak for themselves. It’s a love letter to literature, but it’s also a love letter to all the women who aspire to be more than “just” a wife. I saw it with my mom, who I will biasedly admit is just about the best wife and mother I’ve ever met. I know even she has had these feelings of being “just” one thing, when she is so much more than that. This movie was for her and all the incredible women like her.
The Wife is directed by a man (Bjorn Ruge) and Close’s co-stars are predominantly male (Jonathan Pryce plays her husband, John, and Christian Slater is a charming, nosy biographer). But as FF2 Media contributor Hannah Mayo put it in her August review of the film – this only plays into its feminine perspective. This is a film that husbands and wives should see – but it’s also a film for young women who are repeatedly asked why they’re single, when they’re getting married, whether they’ve tried online dating. Instead of being asked: How’s your job? What are your goals? Are you happy in your life as it is right now? Those questions are far more important, and this is a quiet, simple film that will encourage women my age to not give in to being asked only about the men in their lives.
As Close said in the press room following her Golden Globes win, “I really long for the day when it’s not just ‘a woman’s movie,’ but ‘a good movie.’” The Wife is both.
© Georgiana E. Presecky (1/14/18) FF2 Media
Featured image: Pryce and Close are married in The Wife.
Middle Photo: John and Joan celebrate the Nobel Prize announcement.
Bottom Photo: The Wife is a film for not only writers, but for anyone who appreciates the power of words.