Frederick Wiseman’s A Couple

Frederick Wiseman’s A Couple

Review: Frederick Wiseman’s gorgeous ‘A Couple’ brings the words of Sophia Tolstoy to life

A Couple


Frederick Wiseman, a writer of great and enduring gifts and skill, is among the most important contemporary writers to address the enduring themes of marriage and friendship throughout history…

Frederick Wiseman’s A Couple by Mary Beyer and Laura J. Taylor, is an unclassifiable, beautiful, and ultimately affecting book. It’s a beautiful, elegant book, and one of the best choices I’ve read this year. With their skill, sensibility, and commitment to language, it’s a book that is a pleasure to read, and a book that made my heart sing.

Fittingly (or perhaps not), Wiseman’s story of a passionate, sexually-determined, but intelligent and kind woman, A Couple, was written for the screen. It is a film that is not just a work of art, but a work of love.

Of course, it also has the benefit of being a book. The words in it are not only a work of love, but a work of genius (a fact that Wiseman would doubtless appreciate very much). And what a writer he is.

I first read Wiseman’s The Piano Teacher as a teenager. I read it again a few years ago, and I’ll reread it again for the first time this year. (I’m not going to lie. It is, for me, an almost-forgotten book.) In the years since, I’ve read most of his other books on the writing of cinema—such as The Piano Teacher and A Good Marriage, but also, in a much longer list, his two books on the poetry of film (The Man and the Story, and The Other Half)—but one of the books I read and enjoyed and kept returning to over and over again was this one

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