Coming from director Tom Dolby and Strand Releasing is the story of love, creativity, sacrifice when you are THE ARTIST’S WIFE.
Claire (Lena Olin) is the loving wife of the famous artist Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern). She does everything so that he can be, well, him. Taking care of appointments, meetings and making sure the art still flows is an everyday occupation. Lately, Claire notices that Richard is behaving a little moodier and odd than usual and nervous as he has a show coming up.
After a doctor’s appointment turns their life around, she must now figure out how to deal with the onset of his dementia. The one thing she wants to mend before he forgets is the relationship with his daughter Angela (Juliet Rylance) who he has not spoken to in years. Visiting Juliet, she meets Danny (Avan Jogia) who is grandson Gogo’s (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) Manny.
The visit does not go well, and Claire returns to find that Richard has had his way with the house. Becoming unsure of herself now, she takes a step and rents a space so that she can return to being the artist she once was before Richards success. Claire even starts a friendship with Angela that is tense but there and she spends time with Gogo.
As much as she tries to avoid what is happening in her life, Claire realizes this is her life and refocuses on what is important – no matter what that entails.
Olin as Claire is practically a saint in this role. She is confused, angry, unsure, peacemaker, and trying to keep her life with Richard together. Stepping away to try and find herself is an intense and quick journey as there is no time for more. Olin gives us the whole gambit of emotion and knows that she must bring more to Richard’s life. I just love Olin so she could not do wrong playing this role.
Dern as Richard gets to be a grumpy, artistic, philandering, uncontrollable artist because Claire allows it. When he is not being any of the above, Dern gives us the deep sense of love for Claire and the years they have shared together. He is calm, thoughtful and loving. The constant flux of these two sides of Richard are quick and rapid fire and Dern does them both justice.
Rylance as Angela has deep daddy issues and is not about to make it easy for Richard, dementia or no. She is the younger version of Claire accept a little more defiant and for good reason. Yet, Claire and Angela find a center with each other and know that its time to put aside the past, even if Richard makes that difficult.
Jorgia as Danny is Gogo’s caretaker and has a dream of his own which gets Claire in trouble. Cabot-Conyers as Gogo has an opinion and shares it all at the right time. He is a patient young man knowing already that grown ups are nuts.
Shout out to Stefanie Powers in her role as Ada Risi, a legendary artist who wants to see more from Richard with the pressure of a show clearly on Claire’s shoulders.
Other cast include Caryn West as Dr. Abrams, Alexandre Bagot as Mikey, Laura Chaneski as Jordana, Tonya Pinkins as Liza Caldwell, Catherine Curtin as Joyce and Ms. Stefanie Powers as Ada Risi.
Strand Releasing is one of the leading distributors of American independent, documentary films and foreign langue films in the United States. Bringing their offerings to DVD, Bluray and Video-On-Demand as well. Honored with a 10- and 20-year retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, honors have also included at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Seattle International Film Festival, Provincetown Film Festival and Eastman-Kodak House in Rochester, New York.
THE ARTIST’S WIFE has been the Official Selection at the Hamptons International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival and Sonoma International Film Festival with a Jury Prize for Best US Independent Feature.
This is a film about love when you push past everything else. Claire and Richard are both artists that are clearly complicated, but those complications are just noise. Once time has made its own decision on Richard, Claire must get everything into perspective quickly. That is not easy when everyone has their own opinion and reasons for not wanting to be around Richard!
Yet, she pushes. Pushes herself to remember how she is still a creative person, pushes herself to accept what she does not want to about herself and the years of marriage and where they are now. That is a lot of pushing so there is bound to be an emotional explosion somewhere.
I so enjoyed watching the moments between Olin and Dern, they are absolutely magical in their complicated roles. Whether they are arguing or being loving, they are believable and with that comes the viewers round table of emotional experiences. This is a beautifully written, directed and acted story of life.
In the end – the greatest art is learning how to love.