Search - The Wife on DVD

The Wife
The Wife
Actors: Julie Hagerty, Wallace Shawn, Karen Young
Genres: Comedy, Drama
R     1hr 41min

A penetrating and witty meditation on the age of therapy and the traumas of modern relationships.


Larger Image

Movie Details

Actors: Julie Hagerty, Wallace Shawn, Karen Young
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Love & Romance
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Original Release Date: 08/16/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 08/16/1996
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

Similar Movies

Cyborg 2
Director: Michael Schroeder
   R   1999   1hr 39min
Director: Atom Egoyan
   R   1999   1hr 43min
A Year in Provence
Director: David Tucker
   NR   2001   6hr 0min

Movie Reviews

What's The Worst That Can Happen By Allowing Yourself To Fee
Hand of Doom | The Wonderful World of Colonized Minds | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Short of going back to John Cassavetes, writer, director and actor Tom Noonan's films, "What Happened Was...," and "The Wife," offer two of the most brutal and wickedly funny cinematic depictions of relationships, marriage, and how women and men interact that you're likely to experience.

However, neither film is a comedy per se ...far, far from it.
So don't expect the usual cutesy Hollywood drivel or hip and savy indie/talkie; Noonan holds up the cloudy looking glass for us to hypnotically gaze into with dread and laughter over the recognition of dysfunction within our damaged souls. It's clear the subject material of his movies must've resulted from painful experience and transition in Noonan's life, and in fact, "What Happened Was..." is dedicated to his wife.

Jack{Noonan}and his wife Rita{Julie Hagerty}are new age therapists whose marriage is in peril. A patient of Jack's, Cosmo{Wallace Shawn}, and his wife Arlie{Karen Young}, show up at Jack and Rita's house unexpectedly. They arrive in a heated arguement and it becomes clear that Arlie, not approving of Cosmo's attitude of late, nor the direction of their marriage, seeks to assign blame to his therapists while belittling him for actually paying two people[who she feels cannot truly 'like' him]to listen to him go on about his troubles. She means it, sort of, but is actually more fearful of losing Cosmo, and jealous of him confiding in anyone else but her.

Jack and Rita, plagued with their own troubles, decide to - or are circumstantially pushed into - inviting them to stay for dinner, thus setting the stage for a night of deeply intimate revelations. All four actors do a remarkable job with their roles: Jack uses sadistic humor to mask his own anxiety, cutting someone deeply, only to cover the cruelty with "I'm just joking," or "I hope it wasn't something I said."

Rita longs for a closeness she cannot find with Jack and relies on 'mother's little helper' pills for sought after tranquility.

Cosmo simply "cannot go on" with his marriage, is haunted by a semblance of the old yarn about there being only one woman in the world with many different faces and names, and when pressed to explain himself, he stammers and lashes out. It's not until the foursome have broken apart from the tension that Cosmo is finally able to articulate his thoughts and feelings ...basically to himself.

And of course, his wife, Arlie, who is equally likable, sympathetic and repugnant. The scene where she bares herself in desperation is so stark you almost wince. Like many little moments in Noonan's films, it has that profound impact of truth that can occur with the suspension of disbelief.

"The Wife" isn't exactly for the younger or cookie cutter crowd as they'd likely find it rather dull or too honest i.e. "weird" or "strange." For married couples though, it's highly recommended. Anyone married for several years or longer will definitely get something out of it. Think back to when you and yours met and your journey began with the first steps of a very long climb; neither of you could've fathomed all you'd both face as time changed you as individuals, and inevitably, as the most intimate of partners. I was blessed long ago to find the girl who many years later became my wife. We've experienced the usual high peaks and rough patches that marriages do, and have never stopped feeling, or lost sight of the importance of the other. For everyone, there are insecurities, desires, residual conflicts from childhood, a host of real and or potential troubles that each in their own way and time must face and grapple with. So much of how you grow as an individual, and subsequently, as a couple, entails the awkward attempts toward self realization, the courage and honesty required to take those inner steps of discovering something inside your unconscious, which in turn helps you learn about everyone and everything, and to find the neccessary words and actions for expressing that passion which compells you.

Aside from insightful and humorous dialogue, "The Wife" also makes excellent use of lighting and bizarre camera angles to further illustrate and amplify tension, expression, intention, isolation. Interaction is framed within mirrors, reflecting one conversation with another. Overall, Noonan takes a darkly comical stab at "the age of therapy" and sexual pathos, but only on the surface and certainly not in a manner dismissive of the very real personal conflicts people are confronted by and suffer with.

"The love problem is part of mankind's heavy toll of suffering, and nobody should be ashamed of having to pay his tribute...Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other." ~ C.G.Jung"
Great film - tepid DVD transfer
Eryn Athedon | Ypsilanti, Michigan | 05/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I love this movie. Like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", this film slowly squeezes the viewer into a bottle-neck of engrossing yet terribly embarassing dramatic situations. At times I found it difficult to breathe while watching this film. It's also very beautifully photographed. However, the DVD transfer is terrible. Mottled artifacts of the MPG (DVD) encoding process can be seen swarming in the shadows, and still-life scenes look frozen and slightly odd. Not recommended. The VHS tape on a good VCR is better, since the film was released widescreen on VHS. They should pull the DVD and re-release with a better transfer."
Excellent Character Study
D. Bannister | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 09/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tom Noonan and Shawn Wallace, of My Dinner with Andre fame, give exemplary performances as a new age 'authentic' therapist and a new age wreck respectively. When Wallace's character shows up unexpectedly, with his wife, at the therapists home the results are startling and sweet but not unexpected. This movie unfolds with a subtle brilliance and pace that is not often seen in American productions. The Wife is well worth the rental but it is unlikely that the chain video stores will have it as a part of their collections. You might have to borrow it from a friend or buy it. Sadly the DVD is very sparse and has few extras but that shouldn't deter you from seeing it.It is a great accompaniment to a winter's dinner of penne in a light clam sauce with a bottle of merlot slightly chilled. For dessert a rice pudding would be appropriate."
The best satire on psychotherapists!
D. Bannister | 09/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"None of the previous reviewers said anything about the real point of this film: honest satire on therapy and therapists. The hilarious dialogues are full of perfectly delivered therapy cliches that can enlighten the audience about the craziness of therapists who are locked in their psychology role. It uses irony to point out the importance of being honest and genuine in relationships. It is a very human film: there is an amazing scene where Wally Shawn dances by himself that is beautiful, poignant and very funny. This movie is highly recommended for well-meaning therapists who can't see just how ridiculous their own languaging can get... But not recommended for therapists who are not experienced enough yet to laugh at their own pretensions. Paradoxically Yours,
A Therapist"