The Happy Prince

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
The Happy Prince

Rupert Everett’s long-gestating portrait of Oscar Wilde as an aging exile is committed, melancholy and raw.

Perhaps every biopic of Oscar Wilde must over-indulge its subject. Wilde demands to be the centre of attention, after all, and writer-director-star Rupert Everett obliges him.

Aside from flashbacks to happier times, the focus is on Wilde’s final years, following his conviction of ‘gross indecency’ for homosexuality and two-year prison term. Impoverished, he goes into exile in France with only occasional contact with old friends Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) and Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), and his wife (Emily Watson) and two sons far away. Desperately lonely, he forms a surrogate family in Parisian prostitute Jean and his brother, anaesthetising himself with booze, cocaine and young men.

It’s a melancholy film, punctuated with flashes of that famous wit and the heartbreak of the fairy tale from which it takes its name. Colin Morgan’s Bosie, the gorgeous, callous aristocrat who led to Wilde’s downfall, provides a welcome shot of venom when he returns to his side.

It might sound like a vanity project, but for Everett’s absolute commitment to his subject – right down to the paunchy prosthetics he adopts to play him. As a director, Everett is sometimes heavy-handed, but the performances, and the undeniable injustice of Wilde’s ordeal, make for a tragedy worthy of its drama-loving subject. 

By: Helen O’Hara

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Friday June 15 2018
Duration:
105 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Rupert Everett
Screenwriter:
Rupert Everett
Cast:
Colin Firth
Rupert Everett
Emily Watson
Colin Morgan

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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tastemaker

A film about Oscar Wilde's last years in France and Italy after his release from prison in England.  A part of his life we rarely hear about.  The film was written and directed by Rupert Everett, who also stars.  It is a sensitive portrayal of the man and his downward spiral into debt, depression, debauchery, ill  health and death at just 46.  The story begins on Wilde's deathbed and in flashbacks relives his life from the start of his imprisonment. The sensitivity, vulnerability and brilliance of the man are portrayed very credibly by Everett,  We read at the end of the film how he was posthumously "pardoned" by the UK government for his homosexual acts which were no longer a crime.  A sad statement to finish.  We could have had so much more from this brilliant author if he hadn't been hounded to his death.