After a sleepless night of anticipation for Jo Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) and his wife (Glenn Close,) a phone call from Sweden announces Jo is to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Supported by Joan, his indispensable wife of 40 years, Jo has been a prolific writer since 1950. They have the intimacy of a happy long-married couple.
He enjoys public life while she takes the role of “the great man’s wife” watching over his every need – dealing with everything from taking his heart pills to coaching his behavior.
Flashbacks to their earlier relationship reveal Joan was a star pupil in a creative writing course taught by budding novelist Professor Joseph Castleman (Harry Lloyd).
They fell in love – Jo left his wife (Annie Starke) and baby to marry Joan, who gave up her own writing ambitions when she realized that writing in the 1960s was basically a man’s occupation.
During the plane trip to Stockholm for the week of events surrounding the awarding of the Nobel Prize with their son David (Max Irons), a struggling author who gets no encouragement from his father, they are approached by gushingly smooth journalist Nathanial Bone (Christian Slater) who has been researching their private lives for an unauthorized biography.
Joan answers his questions with guarded and carefully chosen words. She gives him tight smiles and wary knowing and rather flirtatious looks, which hide her emotions – somehow letting the movie goer know her hidden thoughts.
She knows her husband is self-centred, has been inattentive to their children, and had many affairs, while he basks in the glow of recognition of their shared effort.
She becomes increasingly resentful of her position as she thinks about their shared secrets, compromises and betrayals while she lives in her husband’s shadow.
This engrossing film is directed by Bjorn Runge and is based on a novel by Meg Wolitzer adapted by Jane Anderson. There are strong performances, and Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce are outstanding.
Glenn Close gives one of her finest performances. She has been nominated six times for an Oscar. This could be her seventh.
Now showing at Luna Leederville, Luna SX Fremantle, Paradiso Northbridge, and Windsor Nedlands.
Watch the trailer…