‘The Wife’: Is the Glenn Close Movie Based on a Book?

Glenn Close took home her third Golden Globe on Sunday night, winning the best actress in a drama award for her work in The Wife. Almost everyone – including a visibly shocked Close – seemed surprised by her win. Lady Gaga, who was nominated for A Star Is Born, was the favorite in the category.

Close’s moving and tearful acceptance speech earned a standing ovation. The award also brought renewed attention to The Wife and the book it was based on.

Critics praised The Wife

The Wife was released in the U.S. on August 17, 2018. While it received generally positive reviews from critics, it was not a massive box office success on the same level as A Star Is Born. The film earned $8 million at the box office in 2018, compared to $202 million for the Bradley-Cooper-directed A Star Is Born.

In The Wife, Close plays Joan Castleman, the wife a man who recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The film, which is directed by Björn Runge, explores how she has dedicated her life to furthering her husband’s ambitions and career rather than focusing on her own talents.

The Toronto Star’s Bruce Demara called it “a well-crafted story about relationships and about duty, including subverting one’s own needs in deference to another” and commended Close’s “subtle and nuanced” performance. Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times said the movie has a “claustrophobic intimacy” and that Close was “showstopping” in her role as the aggrieved wife.

The Wife is based on a novel by Meg Wolitzer

The Wife is based on a 2003 novel by American writer Meg Wolitzer, who has also penned The Interestings, The Female Persuasion and other books. The 59-year-old author was the first person Close thanked in her acceptance speech, followed the by screenwriter Jane Anderson, who adapted the book for film.

Wolitzer, in turn, said she was “over the moon” about Close’s big win.

When The Wife was released in 15 years ago, Publisher’s Weekly called the book an “almost subliminal psychological horror tale” and complimented Wolitzer’s “crisp pacing and dry wit.”

Why Wolitzer wrote The Wife

In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, Wolitzer explained what inspired her to write the novel. She said she was partly inspired by her mother, the novelist Hilma Wolitzer, whose books were published in the 1960s and 1970s.

“I got to be privy to the writer’s world and to see some of the things that happened. Not in her world per se, but the way some men were lionized in a certain kind of way,” Wolitzer said. “But I have always been interested in issues of power and female and male power interests. That permeates my work.”

The Wife isn’t Wolitzer’s first film adaptation

Glenn Close
Glenn Close shows off her award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards. | Rachel Luna/Getty Images

The Wife isn’t the first time Wolitzer’s fiction has been adapted for the screen. Nora Ephron’s first movie as a director, 1992’s This Is My Life, was based on Wolitzer’s 1988 book This Is Your Life. The 2006 TV movie Surrender, Dorothy was based on her novel of the same name.

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