Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in 'The Wife'
Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in 'The Wife'

Jonathan Pryce wins a Nobel Prize in The Wife. He’s a New England novelist with a seemingly caring wife, played by Glenn Close. Grey, whiskery and startled-bright of eye, he looks like a beaver frozen in a shotgun’s sights. She — cropped white hair, no make-up, pugilist’s chin — looks like every school’s most feared matron. They drag with them to Sweden their resentful grown-up son (Max Irons).

What secret grief is not being told here? Don’t ask me to spill or spoil: it’s pretty much all the film has. Otherwise we are stuck in Stockholm going nine rounds with the floral wallpaper in the five-star hotels, the burbling glad-handers and the fitful comedy of the hands-across-the-ocean welcoming etiquette. (The wake-up breakfast-hour dance troupe in the VIP bedroom is quite funny.) In the drama’s main ring the two boxers, three if you add Max, size each other up for the movie’s big mid-to-late plot punch. That’s a development you may not see coming. Of its going you soon guess the “where” and the “how”, if not the “when”.

★★☆☆☆

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