Couple's marriage is a closed book, writes Sarah Olowofoyeku
AMERICAN author Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) has finally reached the pinnacle. Forty years into a successful literary career he has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature. But the hidden truth about him threatens to be disclosed in The Wife released in cinemas yesterday (Friday 28 September).
The author’s wife Joan (Glenn Close) is alongside him when he receives the news of his prize, just as she has been with him at every step of his career. Flashbacks reveal that the couple met in college, when Joe was a charming and arrogant young professor and Joan was his bright, impressionable student.
Though a promising writer, Joan is made aware that there isn’t a place for female authors in the 1950s. The establishment is male-dominated and sexist. When, in conversation with an unsuccessful and jaded female writer Joan, protests, ‘A writer has to write’, she is told, ‘A writer has to be read, honey, and women writers are not read.’ So she sacrifices her literary dreams and becomes a doting and devoted wife to Joe.
Even though Joan has made that sacrifice for her husband, he has not been devoted to her. She has had to endure years of his unfaithfulness, while continuing to look after him, picking his clothes up from the floor and telling him when to wipe the crumbs off his beard.
At a party celebrating his Nobel prize, Joe gives a speech and tells his friends: ‘Without this woman, I am nothing.’
Joe and Joan fly to Sweden and together navigate the stressful proceedings of receiving a Nobel prize. There are formal dinners, speaking engagements and the ceremony itself. It puts a strain on the couple and when bolshie reporter Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater) manages to entice Joan into having drinks, the story takes an unexpected turn.
The secret truth about the sacrifices Joan has made for the sake of her relationship could surface. Whether or not the truth comes out, it’s undeniable that those sacrifices have caused her pain and had a negative impact on her marriage.
Making sacrifices for the people we love is nothing out of the ordinary. It may be something we are happy to do. But it can also be difficult and lead to feelings of resentment. Some of the sacrifices we make may be small, but sometimes we give up something greater and it can change the narrative of our lives.
One book tells the story of a man who sacrificed everything for the people he loved. The Bible describes how Jesus, though treated unfairly, showed no resentment. He said: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13 New International Version).
After living a perfect life, Jesus took the punishment for all of our selfishness, prejudice and thoughtlessness. He gave up his life for us so that we could live for ever. His sacrifice changes everything, for good.
If we choose to accept what Jesus did, we can experience the joy of being made right with God.
It’s no secret.
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