The Artist's Wife (2019) - Film Analysis
by Rick Soto
I am currently working on a screenplay titled, 'The Artist Model,' so I wanted to see what direction ' The Artist's Wife' takes. Overall, the movie is good and it takes a different route than my screenplay. This film analysis learned after my MFA Script Analysis class focuses on the story, structure, characters, dialogue, and theme.
Bruce Dern plays RICHARD SMYTHSON and Lena Olin as CLAIRE SMYTHSON. Richard is an artist who is self-made. Claire is his wife who does not provide total unconditional love. Claire has trouble with the fact that her husband has Alzheimer's and dementia. Claire provides unconditional love to her husband Richard upon his diagnosis. Richard goes through emotional rides with his wife. Claire tries to get her daughter ANGELA SMYTHSON to spend time with Richard. Angela is played by Juliet Rylance. Angela, Gogo, and Danny visit Richard, as well as, Claire. GOGO is played by Ravi Cabot-Conyers, while DANNY is played by Avan Jogia. They exchange presents and have a good time until one of Richard's paintings is given to Angela. Richard and Angela patch things up after a lifelong disagreement. Richard and Claire get into an argument over material things, such as destroying the furniture--Richard says he wants a divorce. Richard is simply living with Alzheimer's as he soon forgets the episode. Claire has a sexual encounter with Danny. Richard sees Claire's paintings telling her she shouldn't have stopped. They are husband wife again. Claire gives up her paintings for Richard's last art exhibit.
There is continual conflict between Richard and Claire. The antagonist is Claire. The story revolves around her point of view. The goal or plot point I is to help her husband. The protagonist is Richard's diagnosis. One subplot is between Claire and Joyce, where Claire asks Joyce about why she left her husband. Joyce tells Claire that her husband and she grew apart from each other. In Act II, Claire sees Angela who she spoke to over the phone, but Angela was too "busy" within their subplot. Richard faces Alzheimer's in Act II going through different emotions, which is the rising conflict. Richard gets in a heated argument with Angela about his daughter Angela. Richard and Angela get in another argument, but patch things up. Richard and Claire get into a big argument over material things, particularly the furniture as the climax. Richard and Claire patch things up again as a resolution. Claire gives up her paintings for her husband's last art show showing herself as a true wife.
Richard Smythson and Claire Smythson are an older couple, but look adorable together. The writer made Richard angry as a character--I don't know any artist personally who is mean. We find out Richard has Alzheimer's and dementia. Claire questions the doctor if we all have to be normal and perfect. Claire cares for her husband upon learning his diagnosis as she touches his hands when he sleeps and hugs him when awake. We do see Richard be nice when his wife asks to go into the city, which he approves saying, "you don't have to ask for permission--this isn't Saudi Arabia." Angela is similar to her father even though they don't know each other very well. LIZA CALDWELL is played by Tonya Pinkins who is a family friend of Richard and Claire, due to Liza being a gallery owner. Claire is a new woman after being in bed with her husband as she purchases a studio to paint and runs on the beach. ADA RISI is played by Stefanie Powers--both Danny and her are friendly characters. Ada Risi is an old friend who has a museum exhibit, and Danny is the babysitter of Gogo.
In Act I, we immediately hear Claire Smythson's voice, which is raspy and sexy. Claire obviously loves Richard as you can hear it in her voice. You can barely understand Claire's voice in voice over, which is a flaw in the movie. Richard and Claire have small conversations, which resemble disagreements. Claire throws a fit in the supermarket after learning her husband has Alzheimer's and dementia. Claire uses nonverbal communication with her husband by touching his hands when he is in bed or hugging him when awake. Angela is aloof and nonchalant towards her mother on the phone, as well as, in person. Liza and Claire have a bond at one of Liza's gallery receptions--they have a conversation and share a cigarette together. Claire is good with children, such as with her daughter's child. Claire and Richard finally have sex although we are unsure if he took Viagra--the pair are together in bed in each other's arms--both smiling. Richard is a hard art teacher who preaches painting in a ruthless manner to his students even smashing one's art to make a point. Ada is very social with Claire in the museum and even removes all clothing for a group nude art photo shoot. Richard and Claire get in an emotional argument over Angela. Richard and Angela look at each other repeatedly, during Christmas time. Richard and Angela smile at one another, get in another argument until they find common ground. Richard and Claire get into a big argument over furniture--I never see any religion inherent from this family. Richard's paintings look like a mess fitting his attitude. Claire and Danny have chemistry and act it out. Claire is unsure about the encounter and Danny and her end the night. Claire is back with her husband. Claire reveals great love for her husband leaving an emotional impact.
A painter's work fits his attitude in life. Alzheimer's requires love and understanding.
In Act II, Claire takes the bus back home, which loses a star for accuracy considering her husband Richard received a $94,000 clock--she can certainly afford better travel. No offense, I have taken the bus for years. The cinematography was basic. The acting was ok. I only felt deep emotion with the child acting, and Richard smashing a student's painting. I am an artist, but I draw realism not an abstract mess. Yet, Claire stands by her husband giving the movie great emotional impact to its ending.
3 out of 4 stars
The Artists Wife (2019) - Film Analysis [podcast]