THE WIFE

The Wife

A wife is many things.  Perhaps nothing quite demonstrates religious, political or cultural difference as how a wife is defined. How she is enabled or not. This new film starring the wonderful Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce is a timely piece for gender politics. In many respects the film treads the line of the traditional, supportive American wife. She has given up a career, her dreams have become his and she has watched and supported him to thrive.

Set in the early 1990s, we are introduced to Joan and Joe Castleman. Joe is woken by the ringing bedside telephone (remember those?) and informed that he is to be the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It seems that the call is expected, Joe does not wish to hear the news until Joan is also able to hear the confirmation at the same time on the other handset. This is the pinnacle of his career and reward for his vast body of work. Naturally, celebration and a trip to Stockholm follow with struggling, moody writer son in tow.

A Great Woman

We have all heard the phrase “behind every great man, there is a great woman”. This film explores that concept with dark humour. Joe is gradually revealed as a womanising narcissist who trots out the same well-worn and apparently successful pick-up lines. He has a penchant for younger women and despite his evident infidelity is constantly permitted to return to his devoted Joan. This always confounds me.

Through a series of flashbacks to earlier days, we witness the start of Joe and Joan’s relationship. Joe is Joan’s English tutor at University. She develops a crush, does some babysitting for Joe and his first wife which results in a novel “The Faculty Wife” which Joe is clearly pleased with. His teaching is inspirational. However, politics of the day pose a difficult, if not impossible path for female authors. Joan is discouraged from even trying to write by author Elaine Mozell (Elizabeth McGovern)

On the plane (Concorde) to Stockholm, writer Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater) congratulates Joe on his award and presses him for a meeting to discuss the biography that Bone plans to write about him. Joe is irritated by the interruption and makes it clear that he has no interest in a biography. Joan warns him not to be chiding and to take a more diplomatic approach. Making enemies with a writer is unwise. This signifies the moment that Joan begins to reflect on the choices she has made and their impact on her family.

I shall not spoil the story for you.

Hidden Numbers?

I have met hundreds, perhaps thousands of couples in a professional capacity. All are different. Some keep their finances very separate, some very fused and some rather dissolved. It is common for one party to “do the finances” often the husband. I am not suggesting that this is wrong. It does pose a challenge when the relationship changes though either of the two D’s – death or divorce.

The Book of Truth

One book that does not lie is a chequebook (remember those?). This provides an account, warts and all – how we all use our money. There is no hiding. Sometimes the reading is depressing, sometimes encouraging. It certainly tells a story. The Wife is a pretty good story too, here is the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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THE WIFE2018-10-05T11:13:48+01:00

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard

There is something deeply unsettling about the musical Sunset Boulevard which I saw recently. It is currently on at the London Coliseum and stars Glenn Close, (now 69) who most will know from the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction.

The story is one that examines the Hollywood life, or more accurately, the very short shelf-life of movie stars, particularly female ones. Spoiler alert – this is not a new musical, so I will assume its ok to outline the plot. In essence movie star Norma Desmond (Greatest Star of All) of yester-year has long since been discarded and “forgotten” (personally I’m not convinced that this really rings true). The new generation of actors “who need words” are currently all competing for the limited number of roles… and we all know the stories about the casting couch. As with many things in life, the Hollywood honeypot attracts a great variety of bees, the talent pool is more than sufficient, yet to get a good idea or script turned into a good movie – that’s another matter entirely….”Every Movie’s A Circus”.

Money and Happiness

Money or the lack of it, poses problems for “our hero” Joe Gillis, a cynical and weary writer who sees both Hollywood and himself for what they are. Lack or perhaps need (or even desire) leads to compromise. Our writer hooks up with the much older actress Norma, who is portrayed as delusional, perhaps mad, but certainly someone with narcissistic problems. A relationship follows, built upon mutual desperation for something the other appears to provide, yet both are caught up in a self-serving but deceptive story that they tell themselves. “The Lady’s Paying” is a song reflecting Joe’s willingness to let someone else pay… perhaps some self-reflection on this point might result in better questions which move us all forwards about the Panama Papers rather than “how much?”

Whilst I will admit that this is an old story (originally produced as a movie in 1950 by Billy Wilder) so set with that world view, it is frankly all rather too familiar and depressing that older women pairing up with younger men, to feel young are “mad” yet in the very same breath all the male characters pair up with younger women – for the same reasons, and this is “macho”. A woman wanting something, particularly her youth or at least not to be forgotten is typically portrayed as struggling with mental health issues. Yet this is of course an issue that men and women face, with double standards applied by men. The number “Eternal Youth Is Worth a Little Suffering” seems only to point to the outward. Whilst I recognise that this is a period story, it is surely attempting to prompt questions of today… in a culture that is obsessed with appearances, selfies and celebrity…. “I’m ready for my close-up”.

Caught in the Spotlight

The irony of an audience in 2016 largely turning up to see Glenn Close in the title role, merely confirms our fascination with the stars, who now bring considerable ker-ching to the boxes offices of the West End. The audience was enraptured, yet this is certainly not one of the better musicals in the West End, and I was left wondering if the sun had not set on this portrayal of “older” “mad” women. In fairness, it is not clear how old Norma is meant to be, at one point Joe implies that she is 50… (but even in this comment, it is unclear if he is still being “nice”)… so the mere fact that an actress aged 69 playing a 50 year-old rather suggests we have moved forwards, back then women over 35 “didn’t exist”…

Of course, the truth that we all know is that life is short, we cannot deny the aging process and at some point we will become a memory. Hence having a financial plan that reflects your values, not merely your “value” and being in control of your money, rather than it being in control of you, is my way of attempting to address the money/happiness question.

As for the original, here’s the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Sunset Boulevard2017-01-27T10:58:28+00:00
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