Next Wednesday’s film – a master class in screen acting that is as enjoyable as it is compelling

When Joe Castleman wins the Nobel Prize for Literature his wife is delighted for him – who wouldn’t be – and yet there is something niggling away at her that isn’t fully explained by his serial philandering or toddler mentality. That something gradually bubbles to the surface in Björn Rungem’s adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel, which plays out like a low key mystery.

Glenn Close recently missed out (yet again) on an Oscar for her performance, but this must surely have been her best shot since Dangerous Liaisons. For much of the film she seethes wordlessly at the antics of her boorish, garrulous husband, and yet those dagger stares speak volumes. Just as good, and rather overlooked, is Jonathan Pryce’s contribution as the odious, vacuous Joe while perhaps the biggest surprise is Christian Slater, whose understated turn as a hack reporter is a reminder of how good he can be.

Inevitably, some of the subtlety of the book has been lost, and the final big reveal somewhat stretches credulity, but the central performances are so accomplished that lesser sins are easily forgiven in exchange for this master class in screen acting that is as enjoyable as it is compelling.

By David Vass