The Wife Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

On the same day, two films will be released in this country about women who allowed themselves to be pushed into the background for the success of their famous husbands while they did the real work. Does “Colette” retell a real fate? THE WIFE OF THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNER Although fictional, it is at least as moving and also features an Oscar-worthy Glenn Close. We reveal more about this in our review.

The plot

Joan (Glenn Close) and Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) have seemingly been happily married for almost forty years. While he rose to become an important writer, she always supported him throughout his career and, above all, looked after their children. Now comes the climax: Joe is to be awarded the Nobel Prize. To do this, the couple and their son David (Max Irons) travel to Sweden, where the ceremony is to take place. But tensions arise early on between Joe and David, who never felt valued enough by his father. And there is also a crisis between the married couple when the smarmy journalist Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater) confronts Joan with his research one evening: Instead of Joe, it was Joan who was responsible for her husband’s fictional outpourings. She deserves the prize and the recognition. And she slowly realizes that she was exploited by Joe for years…

Movie explanation of the ending

The fate of the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Claudine Colette, whose film adaptation will be released in 2019 with Keira Knightley in the leading role, proves: The story, created by novelist Meg Wolitzer, about a woman who spends her entire life dealing with her husband’s shadow had to be satisfied (appropriately, the original film is simply called “The Wife”) is not far-fetched. In addition, the topic also fits in perfectly with the zeitgeist characterized by #MeToo, which has been creating sensitivity for equal rights for women in the entertainment industry for over a year. Unlike the biopic “Colette”, “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” takes place in the present, although the events described in flashbacks, which show the reason why Joan once let her husband push her into the background, are of course in the past happened – 40 years earlier to be exact. Director Björn Runge is negotiating here (“Happy end”) and screenwriter Jane Anderson (“An American Quilt”) Something similar to “Colette” director Wash Westmoreland: Above all, the lack of openness to literature written by women at the time led Joan to officially hand over the stories she had written to her husband, who was consequently allowed to take the credit for them.

Joan (Glenn Close) and Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) on their way to Sweden.

During the flashbacks involving Joan and Joe of Glenn Close’s daughter Annie Starke (“Albert Nobbs”) and Harry Lloyd (“The Discovery of Infinity”) are embodied, often underlining a little too much what one already learns from the spouses’ descriptions (in one scene, for example, the young Joan is bluntly told that as a female writer she will have no chance in the male-dominated world – that is). a bit clumsy compared to the rest of the film), the storyline surrounding the Nobel Prize ceremony is convincing across the board. Björn Runge is an excellent observer and allows the mood between the couple to slowly escalate; Long before the actual showdown comes in the final third, he stages a seething power play with “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” in which the eponymous wife gradually gains the upper hand without being so offensive that her husband even notices. Instead, here a meaningful word is used that accurately highlights the inner state of the stricken Joan, there it is a cramped smile that shows how much she has to control herself when her husband’s only recognition is that he is her He repeatedly referred to himself as his muse in public speeches and, as the height of audacity, delivered a fiery acceptance speech in which every word visibly pierced Joan’s heart like a stab in the back, while at the same time she tried to maintain her composure.

But the script neither degrades Joe Castleman into a despicable antagonist, nor does it push his wife into the role of a pitiful victim. And that’s exactly what makes “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” so interesting. Above all, the contentious (because it is so thick) ending emphasizes once again that a deep love has developed between the two over the forty years, which is honest and true, apart from the professional dependency of both parties. It is therefore entirely understandable how what happened could happen and as a viewer you first have to come to terms with such a realization. It would have been much easier to side with Joan from the start and just enjoy watching a man receive his just punishment. But the author doesn’t think so simply. This narrative sensitivity without a fixed distribution of roles is helped by an outstanding Glenn Close (“The Crooked House”) and a no less strong Jonathan Pryce (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”) The debates presented reach a great emotional height and moves the origins of the conflict in a calm and sober direction: The fact that Joan probably couldn’t have achieved her own success at the time was not (exclusively) her problem at that moment circumstance of an exploitative husband, but above all of the backward society.

Joan is confronted with the truth by Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater).

A second thematic level opens up in “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” with the appearance of the journalist Nathaniel Bone, the Christian Slater (“Nymph()maniac”) appropriately smarmy when he tells the wife of Joe Castleman, whom he idolizes, that he knows full well that it is not him who deserves the honor of the Nobel Prize, but actually Joan. This behavior not only marginally comments on the greed for sensations in popular journalism, but above all Bone proves to be an absolutely unpredictable character whose too much knowledge hangs over the award ceremony like a Damockles sword. This shifts this narrative individual case outside, because the Castlemans’ fate may be fictitious, but the handling of it would probably take place exactly as described here. The Castlemans’ son, played by Max Irons (most recently in “The Crooked House” together with Glenn Close), but unfortunately seen far too rarely, also proves to be an interesting supporting character. He suffers from the high demands of his successful father, from whom he hopes to receive more support in becoming a recognized actor himself. The scenes in which David showers his dad with accusations seem particularly devastating because Joan repeatedly has to bite her lip to avoid betraying herself or her husband. “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” is strongest in those scenes in which this threesome constellation occurs.

Conclusion: Thanks to its multi-sided view, “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” is an exciting piece of drama and, above all, acting cinema, in which Glenn Close plays towards her next Oscar nomination. Director Björn Runge brings across an appropriately emotional, but never accusatory, approach to dealing with a subject that invites one-dimensionality.

“The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from January 3rd.

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