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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The truth will out -- and it will set you free. Compromising your dreams is likely to leave you bitter and resentful. Believe in yourself and don't let others' opinions of your chances of success define you.
Positive Role Models
Joan is extraordinarily smart, talented, and capable. After spending decades living a lie, she's ready to tell the truth and see where that takes her. But she's also been complicit in the situation she so despises. Joe is a flawed, selfish man who does love his wife but apparently not enough to overcome his baser urges and pride.
Violence & Scariness
Brief physical confrontation between a father and his adult son. An elderly man suffers a serious cardiac event. Yelling/arguing, with bitter recriminations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A sexual encounter between a married couple includes lots of dirty talk. A married professor has multiple affairs (more discussed than shown) and flirts with an attractive student.
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Frequent use of "f--k" and variants. With less frequency: "s--t," "c--k," "Jesus f---ing Christ," and "goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and smoking at parties, bars, cafés, and high-end galas. No one is shown drunk. Discussion of an adult man smelling like pot. A pregnant woman is encouraged to drink champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wife is a drama geared toward adults about the longtime spouse (Glenn Close) of a newly minted Nobel Prize winner (Jonathan Pryce) -- and the secrets and resentments bubbling beneath the surface of their outwardly happy marriage. It deals with mature themes including infidelity and is decidedly mature in tone. Characters drink and smoke and discuss drug use; there's also flirting, kissing, and a non-explicit sex scene with a fair bit of dirty talk. Language includes frequent use of "f--k" and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This uneven drama is elevated by Close's award-worthy lead performance. The Wife is guided by a clear intelligence from the page (Jane Anderson adapted it from Meg Wolitzer's novel), which can be both delightful and awkward. The same characters who describe genitalia as "tumescent" or complain of "agita" seem to have trouble spitting out "f--k" (though they still do it quite often). Nail-on-head exchanges add to the "on the page" feeling of the material, as when a male editor in a 1960s publishing house says a manuscript is "great," but it's by a "lady writer" and "from the point of view of this woman," so they move on. Perhaps as a result, some of the performances are conveyed in large gestures … but not by Close. Never by Close.
The decorated veteran delivers one of the finest performances of her storied career as Joan. There's no visible effort to convince us of anything; She simply is that person. Her inner life is remarkable. We see the cracks develop. We see her awakening. For connoisseurs of acting, what Close delivers is a feast. She's loving and resentful and supportive and repressed and fiercely intelligent and bursting to break free. Where, for instance, Slater's fine work is sometimes hamstrung by, shall we say, a lack of subtlety in the writing (not in his acting -- observe his intrusive body language as he speaks ingratiatingly), in the lead, Close hums right over the top of it all. She becomes this fascinating woman.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate