Glenn Close is an exceptional actress. Anyone who’s seen any of her filmography knows that much. What makes this performance one of the most special out of her many is that this film almost completely relies on her. The plot revolves around her character and how she feels about the injustices done to her over the years. I love a story such as this, one that focuses on someone that’s been wronged and things finally coming to a boiling point. If well done, and if the lead performance is handled with care, it can turn out to be a very compelling story. The Wife is for the most part, just that.
I love the way Close’s character progresses throughout the film’s duration. As we’re first introduced to her, it’s abundantly clear that she is a very repressed woman. As we get deeper into the story and have more details about her and her husband’s past, it starts to make sense. So much genuine feeling is conveyed simply by her facial reactions, especially during her scenes with Christian Slater.
Slater plays a writer who wants to write a biography on Close’s husband and he gives a very skilled performance here. I really enjoyed watching the two of them interact. As the film moves along, the cracks begin to form and we finally start to see her stand up and be honest about her lost dreams, her playing second fiddle. It’s something that I was waiting impatiently for because it’s just so infuriating to see a strong talented woman maligned for the sake of her husband’s ego.
From what I saw, she is caught between her resentment and deep anger from what she’s put up with over the years and her love for her family. Systemic sexism is explored in the flashbacks that show how Close and Jonathan Pryce meet. I love that the ugly reality of female suppression is paid attention to here because that’s the real root of this entire plot. If it weren’t for a hopelessly sexist society back when Close’s character was growing young, she probably would’ve gone on to be quite the successful writer, instead of being this ghost writer for her husband. We can all understand how belittling and hurtful it would feel to be kept down by both society and your own partner. The dichotomy is performed very well and it’s effective in eliciting what it needs to. Pryce also deserves proper praise for his performance. He perfectly illustrates what he needs to for the story.
I also thought Max Irons, who plays their son, gave a very worthwhile performance. His character showed how his father and this whole thing has affected him, it serves as yet another example of how harmful this is. Among all the positives, and there’s for sure a good many, there is one thing I wish The Wife would’ve done differently. I felt it needed to be a tad longer. The film felt too short and I could’ve used some more. Me feeling that way really is a testament to how good the content of this film is, I would not be desiring more if this was forgettable or lacking. The ending is very well performed and is sure to impact you, I just wish it would’ve been stretched out a little more.
All things considered, The Wife is a strong film, due to it’s skilled performances across the board. The cast takes the material very seriously, which lifts up the story. Glenn Close shows once again that she is a force to be reckoned with, one of the most talented that Hollywood has to offer.