TIFF: The Wife

I chose this movie because it’s based on a novel of the same name by a fantastic writer, Meg Wolitzer. I read it several years ago but I can confidently tell you it was an interesting and provocative read. Why then, did I feel the movie was kind of a bore?

It’s about a woman, Joan (Glenn Close), who is thinking maybe she’s had enough of her husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) just as he’s about to win a Nobel prize for literature. She’s supported him and his career for years but being the supportive wife is just not a role she’s comfortable with anymore. It’s kind of bad timing, especially since they’re being trailed by a hungry writer (Christian Slater) gunning for juicy details for his unauthorized biography.

They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Being a woman, I absolutely MV5BY2E1ZDU1ZDEtNzRkMi00M2U1LWIzZTItZWU0YmFiYWQ5MDMzL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTA0OTQ3NDY@._V1_loathe that sick expression, but you know who hates it even more? Joan. And you’re about to find out why. I won’t give anything away, but I think the “reveal’ (which is a bad word for what it actually is, but let’s just say there’s information being withheld) comes too late – it would be a way more interesting story if this little tidbit was part of the journey. What we do know is that she literally runs his life: she checks his beard for crumbs and sets his watch for pill time and does nose hair checks because she’s a goddamn boss and he doesn’t deserve her.

The truth is, this whole thing is a very weak. The story is so diluted that it lost all interest to me. Sean felt a smidge more positively about it, perhaps because he wasn’t comparing it to the book. The acting is good, very good actually, Glenn Close is a queen, which really just made me all the sorrier that this film couldn’t step up and be the thing she deserves.

I imagined that The Wife is perhaps a bit of a TIFF bookend, with Battle of Sexes being the other end. Bille Jean King is reminding people just how different it was for women when she was playing tennis. At the time (1973ish), women still couldn’t have their own credit cards – the applications needed a male signatory. In The Wife, too, women are being held back. Joan should have had her own career as a writer, if only editors, publishers, and critics weren’t all male. She was stifled, and that’s how she became merely The Wife.

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7 thoughts on “TIFF: The Wife

  1. Carrie Rubin

    Definitely sounds like good subject matter with the possibility of great conflict and inner turmoil. Too bad it didn’t deliver for you. I might have to read the book so I can get the full impact.

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  2. Katrina Morrison

    It’s sad that this story is still being told in the present…not all writers are a Jane Austen or Toni Morrison; but, that doesn’t mean good writers should be ignored because they are women. This sounds like an okay movie that could have been so much more. Great review Jay😊

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  3. Birgit

    I still want to see this film because I haven’t read the book. Usually the movie is a disappointment if one reads the book first. I like both actors. It’s funny, I remember when Billie jean King and Bobby Riggs were in the news. Even though I was a kid, I thought he was an ass. I’m a Credit counsellor and started in 1991! Anyway, when I started, a woman did not have her own credit report-it was with the husband! This was 1991 and I was shocked. I think it changed 2 years later or so.

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