“Devastating and essential. A COUPLE is Wiseman working to bottle a human soul.”
—Indiewire, Critic’s Pick
“An expressive and moving portrait of a tempestuous marriage, one told with elan that feels rich in feeling.”
—The Hollywood Reporter
“A COUPLE is a study of a woman’s face, and Boutefeu’s has an outstanding capacity to channel immense grief as well as fierce resilience.”
“A COUPLE still feels, in quiet, diligent spirit, like a Frederick Wiseman film.”
In his long and distinguished career as a filmmaker, Frederick Wiseman, who will be 93 years old in a few months, has taken a major step forward as a filmmaker with A COUPLE, making his first narrative feature. Wiseman—who is deservedly known as the “Dean of American Documentarians” for his nearly four dozen major works spanning from 1967’s TITICUT FOLLIES to 2020’s CITY HALL—here adapts the letters and diaries of Sophia Tolstoy into a work that is both moving and, at times, funny.
A COUPLE is a film about a long term relationship between a man and a woman. The man is Leo Tolstoy. The woman is his wife, Sophia. They were married for 36 years and had 13 children, nine of whom survived. Each kept a diary. Although they lived together in the same house, they wrote letters frequently to each other. Leo Tolstoy insisted that they read their diaries aloud to guests at dinner parties.
The Tolstoys were also a dysfunctional couple, arguing frequently and being very unhappy with each other while occasionally enjoying passionate moments of reconciliation. The film is Sophia’s monologue about the joys and struggles of their life together, loosely drawn from their letters to each other and their diary entries.