The Artist’s Wife
The line between genius and mentally unstable is a fine one. A creative mastermind can capture the world in their art but in order to do so they are required to step outside the confines of conformity. The psyche of the artist has been well explored but we seldom explore what it must be like to love this tortured soul; to be the partner who will always come second to the work but must put on a brave face to support the brilliance of their partner. Director Tom Dolby explores this complex relationship in the charming film – The Artist’s Wife.
Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern) is a curmudgeonly intellect who has experienced immense success as a painter but now potters around his mansion, abusing students in his teaching position and incapable of producing any work. His wife Clare (Lena Olin) has been with him since their humble beginnings and has supported him steadfastly, always putting his needs first. When Clare discovers he has dementia, she notices his fast spiral into his final days and their relationship becomes that of a caretaker and a stubborn patient. She begins to start a new, secret life, rediscovering her talent for painting, rekindling a relationship with Richard’s estranged daughter and having a social life of her own.
The cast bring this thought-provoking story to life. Bruce Dern’s hissing acidity establishes a strong foundation of conflict as he moves from wounded animal to tortured soul. Lena Olin masterfully adds charm and humour to her character’s mid-life renaissance. Unfortunately, the unimaginative script fails to give the actors dialogue that would elevate the cast out of obvious signposting of emotions and predictable reactions.
The Artist’s Wife is a deceptively gentle look at a fascinating woman emerging from the shadow of an abusive relationship, confused yet excited for what the future holds.
The Artist’s Wife is released digitally on demand on 30th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Artist’s Wife here: