Show & Tell: The Wife


Here’s the thing. We’re going to be discussing The Wife on Tuesday evening at The Music Hall. It’s likely to be raining and, while we’re not into real polar bear’s ass territory yet, it’s going to be on the chilly side.

So what can I say to get you to pry you away from the easy chair in front of the fireplace, Netflix on the television and bourbon in the glass?

How about this?

Glenn Close.

The Wife is the best part Glenn Close, one of our very best actresses, has had in years, maybe even her best since the intoxicatingly odious Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil in 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons. Close has been nominated for six Academy Awards and never won a single one. She seems to have had the bad luck to be the perpetual second choice in years when other stars had breakout performances. And her relentless low-key style made her easy to overlook.

(Not that she’s lacked for honors, she’s gotten a Golden Globe and two Emmys for her television work in Damages and three Tonys for her stage work, among others.)

But having someone like Close playing a woman married to an author who’s about to receive the Nobel prize for literature, and whose relegation to the background as The Wife of the Great Man, now that’s a setup for some real drama.

I haven’t seen The Wife, of course. But I’ve watched all five (or is it six?) trailers for the film, and I think it’s pretty clear which way the plot is heading. When an egotistical man whose behavior sets your teeth on edge is on the verge of universal acclaim, and when his underappreciated wife (once a regarded writer herself) has a reporter like Christian Slater nosing around in search of biographical insights, I think everyone knows that black powder is being packed under the Parliament in large quantities. Now, where’s that Bic lighter?

I’m really looking forward to watching Glenn Close do her magic with this role, which, inevitably, is being talked up for a Best Actress Oscar. And I think there’s likely to be a great deal to say about the film’s contention that the way is paved for male writers but blocked for writing women. And who knows, we may find more to say about male/female opportunities and discouragements?

I hope to see you at The Music Hall in the big room at 7:00pm.

I’ll try to contain my anticipation of next week’s discussion, which will be the much-anticipated gathering of British acting divinities in Tea With the Dames. I anticipate no difficulties in motivating any of you to watch Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright as they dish, reminisce, and gossip through a British country weekend documentary. And remember, the movie will be shown in The Loft, so there will be room for only so many Anglophile fans.

And next month, despite the vagaries of rentals and special shows (there seems to be some big holiday on the horizon), I have carved out two dates for discussions. We will be talking about the immortal Buster Keaton in The Great Buster on December 11 and A Star Is Born (speaking of the Oscars) on December 26 (unusually, this is a Wednesday), just the thing to distract you from your eggnog-and-fruitcake-induced lethargy.

Paul Goodwin