The Wife Movie Review 2019: The Unreasonable Feminist

The Wife Movie Review 2019: The Unreasonable Feminist

Movie Name
The Wife
Björn Runge
01 hours 39 minutes

The Wife Review

One of the casualties in today's hyper feminism is plain, reasonable logic.

Therefore, whether it's #MeToo or #TimesUp you don't question grammar or logic but simply lump the woman's story and cheer lustily for her.

That's what Hollywood and blind feminism elsewhere is currently doing - celebrating the story of Joan Castleman The Wife.

Based on Meg Wolitzer's2003 novel, it's wonderfully told by Swedish director Bjorn Runge as celebrated author Joseph Castleman (Johnathan Pryce) and wife Joan (Glenn Close) fly to Stockholm. Jo has won the Nobel for Literature and all's well at home on the night they receive the news and jump on the bed with glee.

But a distinct lack of enthusiasm in Joan and their sulky son David who has accompanied them somewhat douses the celebration. Jo revels in the attention lavished on him by his hosts and the media (which has even knocked off Bill Clinton from its cover to do a story) while Joan takes her usual place in the shadows. But there's resentment simmering in her corner even as she declines the hosts' offer to take her shopping or for a beauty treatment.

If her resentment was over Jo's dalliances with an autographed walnut he gifts his women or over his not encouraging their son as a writer, it would have been justified and acceptable. But her resentment builds over something else.

In tiny flashbacks to Smith College in New York where she was a brilliant, promising student writer and he her professor, their past is told. Another flashback to early days in Connecticut shows her breathing life into his stilted characters.

Biographer Nathaniel (Christian Slater being delightfully thick-skinned and dogged) and his questions to Joan over a drink put further pieces of the puzzle into place.

Before the final showdown between Joan and Jo in their lavish hotel suite.

The Nobel ceremony and the stunning Stockholm hospitality are all a refreshing watch. So is the intriguing premise of the wife being the ghostwriter and resenting the supporting role she plays in the marriage.

Where the problems arise for me, which is in sharp contrast to the universal enthusiasm for the woman's storm within, is that the flashbacks unfailingly establish that it was she who made the move to play the supporting role. It's Joan who falls in love with her married professor. It's she who's happy serving coffee to publishers. It's she who's convinced that a woman author won't be accepted. It's she who accepts that it's more important for a writer to be read than to be published. It's she who enthusiastically offers to "fix it" and get his book published when she finds Jo's work lacking sparkle.

There's a dialogue after the Nobel ceremony where Joan says, ‘I'm a king maker'. But this is a king maker who'd now rather be acknowledged as the king herself. Deservedly so. But it was she who chose to crown him. At no point in the back story is it even suggested that Jo asked her to do what she opted to do. That's what makes it so unreasonable. In fact, when Jo in their showdown asks her, "So why did you marry me?" she has no answers. Because her brooding resentment actually has no logical answer.

Glenn Close stands in the wings as nominee for a bunch of awards including the Oscar which is welcome as she is marvellous as Joan.

Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.

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  • Dialogues
  • Story
  • Music
  • Screen Play

The Verdict

For an interesting story that needed a more reasonable foundation to really cheer feminism, The Wife gets a 2.5* rating.


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