The Wife carries a powerful message about true love


As the 2019 Oscars approached, The Wife—directed by Sweden’s Björn Runge—seemed to be drowning in media attention. Glenn Close was up for her seventh Oscar nomination as best actress for her outstanding role as Joan Castleman in The Wife. After a lack of success in the previous years, Hollywood anxiously awaited the night of the Oscars to see if she would finally come out on top. Although her night did not end in victory, Close’s excellently played role should not go forgotten, and her powerful acting should be relished forever in the film industry.

In wealthy coastal Connecticut during the year 1992, Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) and wife Joan are abruptly awoken in the middle of the night with the much-anticipated news that Joe would be receiving the Nobel Prize for literature. Joe is overwhelmed with excitement, and Joan is directly on the other line supporting and cheering her husband on just as she has since the beginning of their marriage.

As the couple and their son travel to Stockholm, Sweden to collect the prestigious award, the unhealthy relationship living between Joe and Joan becomes apparent to the audience. Joan puts every one of Joe’s needs before any of her own, even throughout multiple affairs and unfaithfulness from her husband. Although Joan is typically able to live through Joe’s extreme narcissism, her calm, appeasing character turns firey and outraged underneath all of the attention Joe is receiving.

Based off of the novel by Meg Wolitzer, the acting in The Wife is some of the most powerful and realistic that I have seen from recent movies. During times of happiness and love, I felt shadows disperse from over my head, but in times of anger and pain, I wanted to jump out of my skin and into the screen before me.

Loveless, we lay together.”

— Meg Wolitzer, The Wife

As flashbacks were strategically placed into the film, the producers did an exceptional job at fitting the characters mannerisms and appearances into what the older versions of the characters are like. Not only did the younger versions of Joe and Joan completely fit that of their older personas, but their children truly did have characteristics of their parents, which is often a difficult task while filming and creating movies.

As I watched The Wife, the message of the film was clearly stated within the tearful scenes. All too often, unfaithfulness in marriages occurs to the people who least deserve the dreadful aftermath. Some women strive to gain the attention of men with power; they will do anything to tear apart a marriage that may already be tearing at the seams simply for their own personal benefit.

The Wife has a similar plot line to many major movies produced in Hollywood, but it stands out against the crowd with its truly powerful actors and heart-aching scenes instilled within the film. Although the subject matter is certainly aimed for a much more mature audience, the message The Wife carries about love and loss certainly makes it worth a watch.