Bruce Dern is the artist and fellow Oscar nominee Lena Olin is his wife in the simply titled, “The Artist’s Wife”. This isn’t a follow-up to the 2011 silent, black-and-white Oscar winner, but it comes close to being as unnecessary as that film would be.
Art is subjective. But I’d be surprised if anyone outside of the cast and crew believe “The Artist’s Wife” is original, invigorating or important. This second feature from director/co-writer Tom Dolby is not nearly as profound as it thinks it is.
Renowned painter Richard Smythson (Dern) is closing in on 80. And when a person gets to that age, a diminishing of memory and cognitive skills is common. Yet, for some reason, Richard’s wife Claire (Olin) is shocked that her husband is showing signs of Alzheimer’s. Their quarrels are some of the dullest we’ve seen on screen in some time.
Richard is being honored with a career tribute. He’s asked to curate one more exhibition of new work. Along with caring for Richard, Claire’s got a few side projects. These include mending a relationship with Richard’s daughter and doing HER OWN paintings again. That’s right: she’s an artist, too.
Think you’ve seen this movie before? Well, you’re right! 2018’s “The Wife”, with Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, covers similar territory, but much more convincingly. And 2014’s “Still Alice”, starring Julianne Moore, is much more instructive and respectful, when it comes to Alzheimer’s.
There are flashes of juice in “The Artist’s Wife” — mostly rebel moments involving the Smythsons and the university where Richard teaches. There’s also an all-time classic moment with Richard, his grandson and yellow snow that’s completely ridiculous. But it’s the one scene from this movie I’ll always remember.
The rest of “The Artist’s Wife” is watching paint dry. This film is a pallet of flat, stereotypical characters, frustratingly weak storylines and overacting at its most noticeable.
LCJ GRADE: D+
Running Time: 95 min.