The Wife and Her House Husband (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Marcus Marcou, UK, 2022, 86 mins

Cast:  Laura Bayston, Laurence Spellman, Peter Barrett  

Review by Carol Allen

Marcus Marcou is the very enterprising director who distributed his first feature film Papadopoulos and Sons himself, when no distributer was interested in doing so – and by using some bold and original promotion techniques, made it a very successful hit movie.  

Since then he’s written two plays for the theatre and made two award winning short films.   Now some ten years after Papadopoulos comes his second feature The Wife and Her House Husband. 

Once more, Marcou has done something a bit different with the distribution in that the main feature is being supported by one of those award winning shorts.  Two Strangers who meet Five Times (12A), which has also been a big hit on YouTube, is a little gem.  

At twelve minutes long Two Strangers is everything a short should be.  It follows two men, one Asian, one white, whom fate brings together on five very different occasions, and traces their relationship from the animosity and racism of their first encounter to a touching and poignant final friendship.  It tells its story effectively and economically, is beautifully acted by Laurence Spellman and Sargon Yelda and is a perfect and satisfying piece of storytelling.

The Wife and her House Husband however will I fear be a bit of a disappointment to audiences who loved Papadopolous, which had such life, verve, warmth, originality and lovely characters.  

The two characters of the title are on the brink of divorce, when they find a letter one wrote to the other when they first started out together – a letter to be read if they were to ever think of breaking up.  The suggestion is to remember the time when their love was new by recreating situations such as their first date.

It starts off promisingly as the couple are finalising their divorce arrangements with a mediator but things turn nasty when Cassie (Laura Bayston) expresses her resentment that she, who was the breadwinner in the marriage, is “giving” him the house and Matthew (Spellman again) retaliates with the teaching career he abandoned in order to raise their children.  After that though the story doesn’t really develop in any meaningful way.  We learn a little bit more about them, particularly her but the characters turn out to be not that interesting, even in a scene which turns a rather strange light on their sex life!  It’s rather like watching a play that is still in development being tried out at a pub fringe theatre.

The two actors, who are not familiar star faces this time, give good performances. though Spellman gets much better opportunities in the short film.   However in a scene where Cassie, who has a drink problem, goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the screen really comes to life with Peter Barrett’s performance as Sean, a down and out alcoholic, who is chatting Cassie up.  He has great presence and his performance is riveting. 

An example of one of the many talented actors in an overcrowded profession, who haven’t yet had their crack at fame and fortune.  Barrett definitely deserves to get his turn in the limelight.