Director: Björn RungeStars: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Harry Lloyd, Annie Maude Stark, Max Irons
A trio of excellent performances from Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater elevate this otherwise flawed feminist-hued drama, based on Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 book. It’s 1992 and married couple Joan (Close) and Joe (Pryce) Castleman are unable to sleep. They are jolted out of their semi-slumbers when Joe receives a call from the Swedish Nobel committee informing him that he has won that year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. They fly to Sweden accompanied by their son David (Irons), a struggling would-be writer, desperate for his father’s approval. In Stockholm Joe becomes increasingly puffed up by the attention as the public appearances and testimonials pile up, while Joan is reduced to the role of helpmeet, and side-lined and patronised with offers of shopping trips. Then, on her way out to tour the city, Joan is waylaid by journalist and writer Nathaniel Bone (Slater) who has been schmoozing Joe in vain in order to get permission to write his official biography. In the picture’s best scene, part flirtation part conversational tussle, Nathaniel shares with Joan some remarkable information which his investigation into her husband has revealed, while attempting to tease out her thoughts. The story flashes back intermittently to show how Joe (Lloyd), as a dashing young lecturer, wooed Joan (Stark), although he was already married. Close draws the viewer in with a compellingly restrained and nuanced performance as the stoic Joan, but the direction is pedestrian, and the script lacks subtlety, has an over-schematic feel and fails to sell the central premise.