Glenn Close is first rate in this second rate movie. Her sublimely nuanced performance in the title role is the only reason to watch this otherwise very pedestrian film.
Close stars as Joan Castleman the wife of Joe (Jonathan Pryce) who is just about to be woken in the middle of the night by a phone call telling him that he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Joan is dutifully supportive of her husband’s honor and is there by his side in all the celebrations.
When the leave for Norway to accept their award they are accompanied by their rather sullen adult son David (Max Irons) for the trip, himself a budding writer who craves for any sort of acknowledgement from his rather self-absorbed father. Also on plane is a very pushy journalist Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), who is relentlessly dead-set on composing Joe’s biography, whether he participates or not. His eagerness is fuelled by the fact that he knows what he believes is the real story that neither Joe or Joan would want to come out.
In a series of flashbacks we learn how Joan first met Joe when she was a student in his University class, and went from babysitting his children, to eventually replacing his wife. It is here that the first seeds of doubt about Joe’s talent and the true nature of his relationship with Joan start to gather some traction.
When now in Norway, in the presence of all the Nobel dignitaries he wants to acknowledge Joan’s role, she objects quite vehemently. It is because as we eventually discover, it is simply both too little and too late.
Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel and directed by Swedish filmmaker Björn Runge, the second half of the story becomes rather too predictable. Jonathan Pryce puts in a stellar performance as weak-willed ego-manic husband who is so desperate to hang on to his credibility, but he is no match for Miss Close. She rises above it all in her beautifully understated performance that in every scene reminds us of what a superb talent she really is. So well worth the price of admission on her own .
Glenn Close has been nominated for 6 Academy Awards so far and never won. Maybe 7th time lucky?
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