If The Wife plays like a sly commentary on Glenn Close’s six Oscar loses, it is surely intentional. Close gives a fierce and nuance performance of a wife who gave up her literary ambitions so that her husband (Jonathan Pryce) can pursue his own Nobel goals. Close has been the woman, the muse, the inspiration, the irritation, the unappreciated and cast aside woman who has guided her man to success, fame and an outsize place in history in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons and Albert Nobbs.
Close’s casting adds a searing layer of insinuation and brooding resentment to this closet drama about a literary couple settling decades old scores over who deserves to be the credit and inspiration for the great man of letters. It is not only perfect casting, it is the only authentic choice. It is hard to see Glenn Close losing out on a seventh nod to Oscar glory, especially in the #metoo age.
Jonathan Pryce’d insinuating, deprecating performance provides the perfect counterpoint. If he wins Oscar gold and Close loses again, the Academy would have missed the point of the movie and of Close’s entire career.
The Wife is Glenn Close’s movie, her defining moment. By showing her character as a gracious loser and spouse she comes out the winner.