‘The Third Wife’

Pair The Third Wife with Working Woman in a “trapped by the patriarchy” double feature of 2019 theatrical releases.

The former probes the nature of the unnatural marriage between captivity and nature —human, animal, environmental, and otherwise — and how the unnatural can be distorted and passed off as natural to whom it’s being forcibly passed to. To be born into slavery is to be born into the hopeless darkness of death, one that makes the movie’s luminous aesthetic all the more crushing in juxtaposition; the beauty of nature against the cruelty of man, everyday brutality masquerading as generationally-inherited, traditional existence. Amongst this bleak despair, the punishingly-fleeting connections and compassion cultivated by the imprisoned, however doomed, are still profound, and perhaps adopt even more meaning from their tenuous transience amidst these cripplingly-abusive social structures.

Stray Take: One of the cinematography’s few missteps is regurgitating a shot that’s becoming — has already become? — woefully overused. The camera’s level with a bed, and the frame’s focused on someone’s head, in the foreground, sleeping on a pillow, with their eyes closed. Then, someone else enters in the background, usually out of focus to emphasize their imposing mystery. As soon as this second person lies down, disappearing behind the assumed-sleeper’s body, the first’s eyes immediately open.

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