Based on a book by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife follows Glenn Close’s Joan Castleman as she travels to Switzerland with her husband (Jonathan Pryce’s Joe) after he’s awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature – with the narrative exploring the dynamic between the two characters and the impact their lives have had on those around them (including Max Irons’ David and Christian Slater’s Nathaniel). Filmmaker Björn Runge opens The Wife with a compelling first act that’s heightened by the actors’ stellar work, with Close’s commanding turn as the title figure effectively anchoring the picture and enhancing the movie’s progressively engrossing vibe. It’s clear, too, that Close has been surrounded by a series of strong periphery performers (with Pryce’s persistently captivating work certainly standing as an ongoing highlight), and the movie also benefits from a sporadic inclusion of flashbacks designed to flesh out Joan and Joe’s relationship (with the strength of these scenes heightened by the effectiveness of Annie Starke and Harry Lloyd’s efforts as, respectively, Joan and Joe). Director Runge, working from Jane Anderson’s screenplay, does a solid job of ratcheting up the tension steadily as the story unfolds, with the presence of a few intriguing (and thoroughly surprising) plot twists certainly ensuring that the film eventually moves into a surprisingly enthralling final third – which ultimately confirms The Wife‘s place as a stirring adaptation that boasts one of Close’s best performances in years.
***1/2 out of ****