The Artist's Wife
Lena Olin shines in Tom Dolby’s moving drama about the impact of an artist’s deteriorating health on his wife.
Claire (Olin) and Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern) have been married long enough for her individuality to have been eclipsed by his fame as one of the leading US artists. If she once accepted his fame and the toll it would take on her life with him, his being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has found her reassessing what her life has become. With a new show nearing and Richard’s ability to complete his work for it cast into doubt, Claire also finds herself nearing an impasse, the outcome of which could have seismic consequences.
Echoing the themes that rippled through The Wife and giving a performance on a par with Glenn Close’s in that earlier film, Olin is magnetic as Claire. And Tom Dolby’s direction, working with a nuanced script co-written with Nicole Brending and Abdi Nazemian, allows space for Olin to convey the emotional weight of a character whose spark has dimmed living in the shadow of another.