Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Glenn Close baits "Oscar" in the Runge, Anderson and Wolitzer melodrama, THE WIFE

She's been nominated for an Oscar six times already (she should have won for the too-little-seen Albert Nobbs in 2012), but this may just be Glenn Close's year. Her newest film, THE WIFE, is the kind of feel-good and perfectly timed-to-the-Me-Too-Movement arthouse/mainstream event that often sets Academy members' hearts aflutter. It is also a pretty good melodrama. And Ms Close is, as ever, sterling. Even if the movie that surrounds her proves mostly silverplate. And though its believability quotient is on the low end, The Wife still offers quite a bit of old-fashioned fun.

As written by the accomplished Jane Anderson (from a novel by Meg Wolitzer) and directed by Swedish filmmaker Björn Runge (shown at left), the movie opens as "the husband" (Jonathan Pryce) receives word that, yes, he is to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Off hubby and spouse soon go to Sweden for the acceptance of the honor, but along the way and while there, the movie keeps flashing back to those "early years" in which the husband's writing career took off, aided by his wife's devotion -- and then some.

The "real" story, which is uncovered in the course of this 100-minutes movie, is more complicated than a mere telling of one writer's rise to fame, but as told here, it is also awfully pat and rather contrived. Thanks to the elegant and layered performance Ms Close (above) provides, along with that of her her daughter's -- actress Annie Starke (below), who plays the wife in her younger days -- the character of this wife proves rich, complicated and compelling enough to make the movie worthwhile.

Because the screenplay must also include a "plot" by a semi-sleazy journalist (nicely handled by Christian Slater, below) to unmask the truth,

as well as a father/son estrangement due, among other things, to jealousy and self-revilement, the movie simply cannot probe very deeply into anything. (Max Irons at left, below, handles the son's role with the proper anger and hurt.)

Still, its surface is glossy and well-acted enough to carry things along serviceably and entertainingly. And Ms Close is a constant delight to watch. If she gets that nomination, it'll certainly be deserved, though my vote this year and at this point would go to Kelly McDonald in Puzzle -- a better and just-as-feminist movie with a deeper and more profound performance anchoring it.

Meanwhile, The Wife, from Sony Pictures Classics, after debuting in a number of major cities a few weeks back, opens here in South Florida this Friday, August 31 -- at the Living Room Theaters, Regal Shadowood and Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton; at the Cinemark Boynton Beach; in the Miami area at The Landmark Merrick Park, The Tower Theater, and Regal South Beach 18; at the Cinemark Paradise 24 in Davie; at the Movies of Delray and Lake Worth; in Fort Lauderdale in the Classic Gateway; and at Cobb's Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens. 

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