I finally had the opportunity to watch The Wife, streaming on Starz. If you are an author and haven’t seen the movie, you may wish to check it out.
The movie is based on novel of the same name, and stars Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater. Glenn Close plays the wife, Joan. Her husband, Joseph Castleman, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and they travel to Stockholm with their son for the award ceremony.
It’s a convoluted story, with flashbacks from the present to the past. Flashbacks include young Joan, who falls in love with her professor, Joseph. He teaches writing, but Joan is actually the talent between the two. Set in 1960, Joan is faced with the reality that most publishing houses are not interested in female authors. However, she is driven to write.
In a poignant conversation with an author at a reading, come these lines. They are spoken in a conversation between the young Joan Castleman and an author by the name of Elaine Mozell, who is disillusioned with the publishing house gatekeepers (those rascals are still around by the way).
“I love to write. It’s my life.” (Joan Castleman)
“Don’t do it.” (Elaine Mozell)
“A writer has to write.” (Joan Castleman)
“A writer has to be read, honey.” (Elaine Mozell)
After Joan marries Joseph, who attempts to write a book, she helps to rewrite his poorly devised first draft. As the genius between the two, and because he is a male, the book gets published and it a runaway best seller. As the years follow, Joan writes, while he keeps house and watches the kids. Now that they are in their twilight years with grown children and grandchildren, the Nobel Prize is now Joseph’s crowning achievement. No one is wise as to who really wields the pen in the background, except for another author who wants to write Castleman’s biography.
Joan, of course, is frustrated after years of living with a narcissist husband who takes all the credit for her hard work. He’s been unfaithful to his wife throughout the years — just one of those men who can’t control his urge to stray. But Joan, you see, has been the good wife, until finally the typewriter ribbon of life breaks and she’s had enough.
Glenn Close received multiple nominations and awards for her performance. I will say that I’ve not always been a fan of hers but she is outstanding in her performance. The movie is also fraught with dysfunctional family ties between father and son, which becomes part of the conflict but not the central story.
In any event, I write this review because I have to write, and I love to write. The problem is when you are an author, you really are driven to write. You attempt to stop. I know I do when sales on my books suck, and no one reads them. I mean what’s the point? A writer needs to be read. I tell myself the same story — don’t do it. Just give it up. Of course, I don’t heed that advice.