The Wife (2017 film)

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The Wife
The Wife (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Björn Runge
Produced by
  • Rosalie Swedlin
  • Meta Louise Foldager
  • Piers Tempest
  • Piodor Gustafsson
  • Claudia Bluemhube
Screenplay by Jane Anderson
Based on The Wife
by Meg Wolitzer
Music by Jocelyn Pook
Cinematography Ulf Brantås
Edited by Lena Runge
  • Anonymous Content
  • Meta Film
  • Tempo Productions
  • Silver Reel
  • Spark Film and Television
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • 12 September 2017 (2017-09-12) (TIFF)
  • 17 August 2018 (2018-08-17) (United States)
  • 28 September 2018 (2018-09-28) (United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[1]
Language English
Box office $14 million[2]

The Wife is a 2017 drama film directed by Björn Runge and written by Jane Anderson, based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. It stars Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater, and follows a wife who questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her narcissistic husband, who is set to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Wife premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2017,[3] and was theatrically released in the United States on 17 August 2018 by Sony Pictures Classics. It received positive reviews from critics, with major critical acclaim drawn towards Close's performance which some considered to be the best of her career.


This plot description is chronological, although major parts of the film are told in flashback.

In 1956, Joan Archer (Annie Starke) meets Joseph Castleman (Harry Lloyd), a handsome young married professor at a women-only college. Although already an accomplished (if unpublished) writer, Joan is awed by Joseph's force of personality and advice that "a writer must write". Joan meets a published alumni authoress (Elizabeth McGovern), whose cynical views on opportunities for female writers disheartens Joan. Two years later, Joseph has been fired for having an affair with Joan, his marriage is failing, and his first attempt at writing a novel turns out very poor. Joan, a secretary at a publishing house, observes how the all-male editors dismiss women writers. When Joan criticizes Joseph's work, he threatens to end his relationship with her (claiming she cannot love "a hack"). Joan agrees to fix Joseph's novel for him. The work, titled The Walnut, is published and becomes a bestseller. By 1960, Joseph and Joan are living in a large seaside home in Connecticut. Joan is hard at work writing a novel, to be published under Joseph's name, while Joseph supports her by cooking, cleaning, and caring for their first child, David. As Joseph and Joan converse, it is apparent that Joan's novel is a reflection of their life together, which bores Joan.

A narcissist, over the next four decades Joseph has several adulterous affairs, and tells everyone that Joan "does not write".

By 1993, an elderly Joseph (Jonathan Pryce) has become a celebrated author. He wins the Nobel Prize in Literature, although Joan (Glenn Close) seems less than happy about the honor. David (Max Irons), who idolizes his father, seeks Joseph's critique of and approval for his first short story, unaware that Joan has written all Joseph's books. Joseph, Joan, and David fly to Stockholm as Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), a biographer with a taste for scandal, tries to insinuate himself into the Castlemans' lives. Joan's unhappiness worsens as adulation is heaped on Joseph. His attempts to publicly thank her for supporting him only embitter her further.

Nathaniel, sensing Joan's emotional state, induces her to talk with him over drinks and says that he knows that Joan has ghostwritten a major portion or even all of each of Joseph's novels. Joan does not admit the truth, but Nathaniel is convinced by their conversation that he is correct. Meanwhile, Joseph tries to seduce a beautiful young photographer (Karin Franz Körlof) who is assigned to him. Joseph is unable to consummate the affair due to his cardiovascular disease. Joseph accuses Joan of abandoning him, while Joan expresses her outrage over Joseph's attempted affair. The argument ceases when they learn that their daughter has given birth to a grandson.

The night of the Nobel Prize ceremony, David confronts his parents after being told by Nathaniel that Joan is the only writer in the family. Joseph and Joan deny everything. At the ceremony and banquet which follows, Joan becomes increasingly upset by the accolades showered on Joseph. She flees and Joseph follows her. He demands that she take his Nobel Prize, but she refuses. At their hotel, Joan tells Joseph she is divorcing him. They argue violently, and Joseph has a heart attack. Prostrate on the bed, he begs for Joan's love, and she tells him she loves him; he replies, "You're such a good liar," and dies moments later.

On the airplane back to the United States, Nathaniel offers his condolences to Joan. She tells him that if he tries to print anything that undermines Joseph's reputation as a writer, she will sue him. David overhears her. Joan says that she will tell David and his sister the truth when they get home.



On 16 May 2014, it was reported that Glenn Close would star in an adaptation of the Meg Wolitzer novel The Wife. The film was directed by Björn Runge and written by Jane Anderson.[4] On 30 January 2015, Frances McDormand, Logan Lerman, Brit Marling, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater were announced as having also been cast.[5] On 19 October 2016, Pryce and Slater's involvement was confirmed, and Elizabeth McGovern, Max Irons, and Close's daughter Annie Starke joined the cast, playing the roles originally set with McDormand, Lerman, and Marling, respectively; Harry Lloyd was also added.[6] Close approached Gary Oldman for the part of Joe Castleman but he was unavailable for the role. The Wife shot scenes in Glasgow,[7] Edinburgh, and Arbigland Estate in Dumfries.[8]


Box office

As of 5 November 2018, The Wife has grossed $7.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.2 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $13.9 million.[2]

In its first weekend of limited release, The Wife grossed $111,137 from four theaters, for an average of $27,784, the best of the weekend.[9] It expended to 18 theaters in its second weekend, making $212,714.[10]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 178 reviews, and an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Wife relies on the strength of Glenn Close's performance to drive home the power of its story — and she proves thoroughly, grippingly up to the task."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film four out of five stars, calling Close's acting a "tour-de-force," and saying she "takes it to the next level with a powerfully implosive performance that doubles as an accumulation of details that define a marriage. She never telegraphs Joan’s feelings, letting them unravel slowly as we watch her attend parties as a buildup to the big night."[13] The chief film critic for The Observer Mark Kermode described the movie as a "Stockholm syndrome with a twist",[14] while Glenn Close, interviewed by Robbie Collin for Irish Independent, described it as "part-period piece, part-love story, part-Bergmanesque drama - so much so the latter that it could have been called Scenes from a Marriage."[15] Citing the screening coordinator Peggy Siegal, Bill McCuddy of the Gold Derby called The Wife "the perfect" '#MeToo' film" and defined it an Oscar bait.[16]


  1. ^ Wigley, Samuel (13 September 2017). "British films at Toronto 2017". British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b "The Wife (2018)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  3. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (25 July 2017). "Toronto Film Festival 2017 Unveils Strong Slate". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave (16 May 2014). "Glenn Close Heading to Sweden to Star in 'The Wife'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  5. ^ Barraclough, Leo (30 January 2015). "Berlin: Frances McDormand, Brit Marling, Christian Slater Join 'The Wife'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  6. ^ Ritman, Alex (19 October 2016). "Glenn Close's 'The Wife' Rounds Out Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  7. ^ Barnes, Luke (21 November 2016). "Hollywood superstar Glenn Close spotted in Glasgow as she shoots scenes for movie 'The Wife'". Daily Record. Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  8. ^ Swarbrick, Susan (15 February 2017). "Coming attractions: the star-studded new films and TV shows shot in Scotland". The Herald. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (19 August 2018). "'Crazy Rich Asians' Even Richer On Saturday With $10M+; Weekend Bling Now At $25M+ With $34M 5-Day Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "The Wife (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  12. ^ "The Wife Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  13. ^ Travers, Peter (14 August 2018). "'The Wife' Review: Glenn Close's Spouse Is Mad as Hell in High-Lit Relationship Drama". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  14. ^ Kermode, Mark (30 September 2018). "The Observer - The New Review - Stockholm syndrome with a twist". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  15. ^ Collin, Robbie (7 October 2018). "'My childhood gave me a kind of PTSD' - Glenn Close". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  16. ^ McCuddy, Bill (29 July 2018). "Glenn Close scores Oscar buzz for 'The Wife' at private Hamptons screening". Gold Derby. Retrieved 2 November 2018.

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