Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Wife

Most of the time when I see a movie after I have read a book, I leave disappointed in the movie.  Years later, I might feel as if the movie is much better than I had initially thought, because the details of the book have faded. I remember being upset the first time I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and feeling similarly when I left the theater after the Godfather.  Now I like both of the movies a lot.  

I finished reading The Wife a few weeks ago.  I thought it was a good book that grew on me in the days after I'd completed it.  I could not, however, quite buy a central part of the story line.  Could not believe it would have happened that way, and that was a reason I was not wild about the novel. Still, it hung around in my head in the way good novels do.

Last night I saw the movie.  Really excellent. Glenn Close is so good in it.  As is Jonathon Pryce and Christian Slater.  When I left the theater I bought it. That is, I bought what I could not buy when I read the book. (You will have to do one or the other to know what I am referring to).  It could have happened that way.  It is a stretch, but it could have.  And I think it was Close that made me buy it.

To what extent do we, in order to motor along the bumpy highway of our existence, make concessions that seem--in retrospect at least, or to another observer--just unbelievable?  Will a spouse dodge the foul effluvia of a partner's conveniently blind selfish irresponsibility, in order to avoid the debilitating stench--yet still stay in the car.  Can social attitudes in one era, convince a person, subconsciously or otherwise, that what is incomprehensible in another era, is sort of fine.

I bought Glenn Close. I believe it could have happened. And I think the way she behaved throughout is akin to the way the wife would have reacted.  It helped that I had some background from the book.  The movie makers changed some of the storyline. The son is still central but he is a different sort of cat.  There is a daughter written out.  In the movie, there are allusions to Close's parents' aversion to the husband, and to the husband's upbringing--both of which could be seen as foundational to the behavior--but in the book, these events are developed much more.  The decision Close makes is right up front in the book but does not surface until the end in the movie.

Go see the movie. Particularly if you read the book. Just don't plan on having a jolly time with your partner afterwards.