The Happy Prince (15)
Directed by Rupert Everett
IT'S taken 10 years and a lot of proverbial blood, sweat and tears for this fascinating depiction of the tragic last years of Oscar Wilde's life to finally reach the big screen. It has certainly paid off. Rupert Everett, who's written, directed, produced and who stars in it as the great man himself, has come up with a masterful and impressive directorial debut.
He gives the performance of his career in a part he was born to play alongside a dream cast that includes Colin Firth, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson.
They stood by him after agreeing to appear in this drama a decade ago. Everett had a tough time securing the finances for the film until Firth came on board, according to Alan Yentob's illuminating documentary on the making of The Happy Prince, in which he followed Everett around for five years.
A beautifully and poignantly written labour of love, it sheds a compelling light on how Wilde, after leaving prison and ostracised by British society, was forced to quit Britain and live in exile in France under a new identity with the help of his only loyal friends Reggie Turner (Firth) and Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas).
Wilde, on his death bed in a cheap Paris hotel room, looks back on his life with detached irony and humour.
He tried and failed to reconcile with long-suffering wife Constance (Watson) and former lover Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas (a superb Colin Morgan), who was his personal and professional ruin. He followed Wilde to Paris to pick up where he had left off in what was a toxic and destructive relationship.
Compelling, deeply tragic and moving, this is an insightful look into the last days of the great Oscar Wilde.
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