We have all heard of the phrase “behind any great man there is a great woman”. The Wife puts this idea under the microscope and magnifies it, saying that behind every great man there’s always a greater woman.
Enter Joan Castleman (Glenn Close), wife of Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature Joe (Jonathan Pryce). For decades, Joan has backstopped her husband so that his career can flourish—a scenario very familiar to many corporate wives of recent times.
But all is not as it seems, and the key to the revelation of what Joan has really done to keep her marriage and husband afloat comes when the King of Sweden asks her if she has an area of employment, and she simply replies “I’m a kingmaker”.
Through flashbacks we see exactly how Joan has willingly sacrificed her own expectations so that Joe can reach the dizzying heights as an author.
Joe is an interesting character—irascible, self-centred and generally insensitive to those around him, but at the same time he pays very public tribute to Joan’s contribution to his success.
And that’s the point of the film—we witness his success, but does the credit really belong to him?
Joan shows enormous loyalty, integrity and respect for her partner in life, reflecting the advice on marriage in the Bible—“Honour your marriage and its vows, and be pure” (Hebrews chapter 13 verse 4).
Sadly, it seems that Joe has a more fluid approach to the loyalty that marriage requires, but Joan is the woman he idolises and is very much the linchpin of his life.
The Wife is an intense portrait of a marriage that has stood the test, perhaps against the odds, due to Joan’s inner strength and her desire, borne out of her great love for Joe, to put him first.
The Wife is a thought-provoking film that challenges us to think about the way we value our partners in life.
+ Tour de force performance from Glenn Close
– Coarse language and adult themes