Monday, January 7, 2019

The Wife

The Wife
Movie review

Almost typed The Good Wife, a TV series I never watched but can tell from the title and synopsis—a typical story of the wife who stands by her man who has gotten himself into trouble. The definition of a good wife. Faithful, loyal.

Thus, The Wife, originally a book by Meg Wolitzer, a very intuitive writer. She’s able to bring readers into her characters using few words. Much like a good actress. I once read an interview where an actress told a director—I can communicate this without words. With her eyes, small gestures, she acted. Glenn Close did the same thing in The Wife.

To be fair, I saw this movie on the plane from Seattle to Minneapolis. It left me shaken—or was it the turbulence? The time change? The shifting taking place emotionally within me. As a writer I’ve lived a lot of The Wife.

A recent conversation about the #metoo movement with a feminist friend: I’m not all in. Me too, no pun intended. Yeah, I’m afraid this might come back to bite us on the butt.

The subtext is this—I’ve been to writers’ retreats, conferences, residencies and seen writers interact, drink, and sleep with each other. For a week or two folks are just kicking back. It seems mutually beneficial. I’m not talking rape, but adults making choices. Sometimes bad ones. Maybe they’re bored with their marriage, maybe they are eager for appreciation, for their work to be advanced, etc. Of course, as an outsider I can’t judge specific situations. This is merely a generalization. Which makes retrospective judgment against a writer male or female seem like a slippery slope.

So, yeah, I still read Junot Diaz and Ernest Hemingway. I respect their work, their words. Maybe not every choice or lifestyle decision they’ve ever made.

Watching The Wife you respect the writer whose body of work is about to be celebrated by a Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet what unwinds through the course of the film is another narrative. About the wife behind the writer and her contributions. Here is where Glenn Close worked acting magic, communicating so much through a look, a breath, accepting a cigarette and blowing away the smoke. She is in love with the writer, disgusted by the man. Her’s is a hard decision.

In this film the character of the wife refuses to be a victim. Yet she still needs her own story arc. Space to dream and grow. Here is a snippet from Glenn Close’s acceptance speech:
“Women, we are nurturers, that is what is expected of us. We have our husband and our children and we have to find personal fulfilment and follow our dreams and we have to say, 'I can do that' and, 'I should be allowed to do that'.”

Congrats, The Wife.

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