Newest Reviews
Great White
Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Matrix, The
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Newest Articles
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
  Artist's Wife, The Which Way Up Is It?
Year: 2019
Director: Tom Dolby
Stars: Lena Olin, Bruce Dern, Juliet Rylance, Avan Jogia, Stefanie Powers, Tonya Pinkins, Catherine Curtin, Lukas Hassel, Caryn West, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Eise Santora
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern) has been an artist all his adult life and married to Claire (Lena Olin) for half of that, feeling she brings out the best in him and his paintings. He has always been somewhat irascible, the doesn't suffer fools gladly type of man, but just recently this behaviour has been growing worse and is even affecting the classes he takes in college for students hoping to learn at the knee of this great talent. However, now he is verbally abusive towards them under the belief it will toughen them up for a career in the arts, and this is not evidence of his tough but fair teachings, more evidence he is suffering from a lack of judgement. When Claire is informed her husband is now in the early stages of dementia, she wonders what she can do now...

How about make plans for when he is not around anymore? That would appear to be the point of director Tom Dolby's film, which he dedicated to his parents, so you can imagine the piece came from the heart, but as the title indicated, the heart of the drama lay with the Claire character rather than an examination of how the dementia affected Richard. Indeed, according to this the disease merely exaggerated his bad temper and made him intermittently forgetful, which may have been accurate to the beginning of the condition but was offering a not really honest portrayal of what it does to the personality of its sufferers, indeed the final shot showed Richard having a fine old time, beaming away as he achieves a happy ending that may make some viewers sceptical.

Yet actually, Dolby was more captivated by Claire and the possibilities of the liberated and financially secure older lady, since she used to be an artist herself and now her spouse will not be picking up his paintbrush so much from now on, it is a chance for her to emerge from under his considerable shadow and become known as an artist in her own right. All very well, but an indication of how relentlessly middlebrow The Artist's Wife was would be summed up in those artworks: not a Jake and Dinos Chapman diorama, for instance, or a Tracey Emin rumpled bed, but simple abstracts on canvas that most audiences would have no idea whether they were any good or not, and simply have to take the Smythsons' genius as read. That the plot lacked the gumption to be adventurous in that regard would be fair enough had the dementia been the main concern.

However, as it unfolded it was apparent Claire's fulfilment as an artist was paramount, with Dern frequently sidelined so Olin could go off on her own, trying to make peace with Richard's daughter Angela (Juliet Rylance), enjoying a mind-expanding spot of adultery with Angela's babysitter Danny (Avan Jogia). It was probably unfortunate that this was receiving a wider release around the point that Florian Zeller's The Father was getting its Oscars, since you would be expecting that sort of thing from this, when it was actually more a Sunday colour supplement article brought to life, where Claire would invite you into her home, chat about a few revealing incidents, discuss her art and how she had gone from muse to inspired herself, and so forth. What this did not give you was a reason to be invested, and while with these two leading actors you were guaranteed committed performances, by the conclusion you did not feel as if there had been sufficient motive to spend time with these people's problems when they did not seem to be too much of a hardship compared with others in the real world going through the same ordeals. With constant sad piano music by Jeff Grace.

[The Artist's Wife starring Bruce Dern and Lena Olin - available from digital platforms April 30th 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 132 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: