THE HAPPY PRINCE (105 R)
The untold story of the last days in the tragic times of Oscar Wilde, a person who observes his own failure with ironic distance and regards the difficulties that beset his life with detachment and humor.
Director: Rupert Everett
Writer: Rupert Everett
Stars: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Emily Watson
Closed Captioning and Descriptive Narration Available
The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett’s passion project about Oscar Wilde’s last, wretched years. No,I didn’t much wish to see Wilde being driven to his death either, but while the film is sad, it is ravishingly sad, and I just love Everett, who’s said so often that his career is over that he’s kind of made a career out of it. Respect.
Everett wrote, directed, produced and stars as Wilde who, at the point that the story is taken up, has just been released from prison for gross indecency. Shunned by British society, he is forced into exile in France and Italy but, even so, he’s cornered in a church one day by a group of Hoorah Henrys out for his blood, and it is so sad, but ravishingly sad, with the light in the church pouring in like melted butter.
Using vignettes and flashback, we learn about his few loyal friends, his relationship with his wife and sons, which was devoted if impossible, and how he allowed Bosie to continue to destroy him. This occasionally slips into cheap sentiment, but there are some stand-out scenes — Wilde singing ‘The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery’, for instance — and, of course, there are some terrific lines. ‘I am dying beyond my means,’ he will complain on his deathbed. As for Everett, he is terrific. His Wilde is not hagiographic. His Wilde is brilliant but also foolhardy, exploited but also wilfully self-destructive, funny but also pathetic. A sad film, but ravishingly so.
– Deborah Ross, The Spectator