The Wife – here’s a weekly round-up of the latest films

The Wife is in cinemas on September 28.
The Wife is in cinemas on September 28.

Grab the popcorn for these new films. 

The mercurial Glenn Close makes a compelling bid for her seventh Oscar nomination in the title role of director Bjorn Runge's slow-burning drama adapted from the novel by Meg Wolitzer.

Oscillating between two time frames, The Wife is a meticulously constructed character study, which exposes the steely resolve and indignation of a woman who has honoured her wedding vows to a man with a roving eye and an insatiable hunger for recognition.

The enduring pleasure of Runge's film is witnessing the balance of power shift between the well-drawn characters, building to a dazzling explosion of verbal fireworks that makes sense of throwaway comments and gestures that have tantalised us until this turning point.

In 1992 Connecticut, celebrated writer Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) receives a telephone call from Stockholm to confirm he has been selected as this year's recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Joe's wife Joan (Close) celebrates with her spouse yet there is unspoken tension.

The Castlemans travel to Sweden on Concorde and mid-flight, they are pestered by muck-raking journalist Nathaniel Bone (Christian Slater), who is keen to pen a biography on Joe and hopes that he can get to his unwilling subject via Joan.

While she fends off Nathaniel's unwelcome overtures, Joan also acts as peacemaker between Joe and their son David (Max Irons), a writer desperate for his father's approval.

As the prize ceremony approaches, flashbacks to 1958 Massachusetts reveal the origins of the Castlemans' relationship at a women's liberal arts college where Joan (Annie Starke) is a naive student and Joe (Harry Lloyd) is her married tutor, who intends her to be more than his babysitter.

The Wife is draped elegantly around Close and her deeply moving performance.

Pryce portrays a boor with gusto and he sparks fiery on-screen chemistry with Irons as the prodigal son, whose self-belief can be undermined by a single laser-guided word of criticism from his old man.

By the incendiary final frames of Runge's satisfying film, the younger Castleman discovers that he has been forlornly searching for validation in the wrong place.

Released September 28. 

The Night School (15)

Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is one of the best salesmen of grills and barbecues and he hopes to capitalise on that success by proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke).

His plan culminates in an explosion that leaves poor Teddy in need of a new job.

A good friend (Ben Schwartz), who works for a firm of stockbrokers, would love to hire Teddy except he dropped out of Piedmont High School a couple of credits shy of graduating.

If Teddy wants to secure a well-paid career and provide for Lisa, he will have to go back into education.

After an awkward conversation with Piedmont High School's principal (Taran Killam), Teddy enrols in night classes along with a motley crew of dreamers and misfits including Luis (Al Madrigal), Mila (Anne Winters) and Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub).

Their teacher Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) explains that she is only taking the classes to make extra money and she will not tolerate time wasters.

"If you're not going to do the work, drop the class," Carrie tells Teddy and the salesman discovers that his teacher is the first person he has met who is impervious to his slick patter.

Released September 28. 

A Simple Favour (15)

A single mother and food blogger (Anna Kendrick) turns amateur sleuth to unravel the mystery of her best friend's disappearance in the sinfully entertaining comedy thriller, A Simple Favour.

Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy, blends a fruity cocktail of Hitchcockian whodunnit and gnarly black comedy, garnished with generous twists of spite and betrayal.

Think Gone Girl with killer one-liners and perfectly shaken martinis and you'll be close to the lip-smacking delights of a battle of the sexes in small town suburbia, adapted for the screen by Jessica Sharzer from Darcey Bell's novel.

Her script is pleasingly self-aware as it references classic thrillers to keep us guessing to the spouse's whereabouts.

Out now. 

A Little Stranger (12A)

Spectres of the past lash out with horrifying consequences in The Little Stranger, an ambiguous thriller of simmering desires set inside a crumbling mansion in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Adapted from Sarah Waters's gothic novel, director Lenny Abrahamson's picture conjures a mood of grim foreboding, enriched by Stephen Rennick's haunting orchestral score that seems to anticipate the whispering breeze and creaking floorboards of a country pile that has seen far better days.

It is an atmospheric and stylish portrait of dysfunctional family relationships and class warfare that builds tension gradually, with occasional jump-out-of-seat scares that may or may not be the result of supernatural phenomena.

Screenwriter Lucinda Coxon retains the ambiguity of Waters's source text, opening the central mystery to multiple interpretations until a finale nudges us sharply in one dizzying direction and we land in a state of shock with a satisfying thud.

Performances from the central quartet - Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling and Will Poulter - are as tightly wound as the plot.

Out now.