"Was he once the most famous man in London? The artist crucified by a society that once worshipped him? The lover imprisoned and freed, yet still running towards ruin in the final chapter of his life?"
Rupert Everett wrote, directed, and stars as Oscar Wilde in the final chapter of his legendary life. Here is my review of Sony Pictures Classics' THE HAPPY PRINCE.
"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."
Rupert Everett tour de force of a project about the final years of Oscar Wilde is both majestic and haunting. Everett's obviously a beloved fan of Wilde and his transformation into the elderly Oscar is one of the miraculous elements of THE HAPPY PRINCE. The film's brisk hour and 45 min length is perfectly paced so that we see a full perspective of Oscar's final journeys.
Everett entrusted his terrific bio-pic in the hands of cinematographer John Conroy. Conroy's vast British TV chops help fit in all the beautiful scenery of England, France and Italy that Oscar visits but also touches on the emotional turmoil that follows the artist throughout. Rupert admits he wanted to make a "travelogue" and with Conroy's speed and keen eye you fully witness the many faces of Europe seen by Oscar Wilde.
The plot is a unique dive back and forth from Oscar's final moments of pure joy with his move away from the imprisonment that he survived in England. His homosexuality was fodder for all the world to witness and he lost home, family and power. Everett spends a lot more time on the impact of that imprisonment rather than truly harping on those dreaded two years. It's all opened and closed by the amazing words of Oscar from The Happy Prince storytelling to his final benediction. A slew of talented actors and actresses follow Rupert on this odyssey. Colin Firth (Reggie Turner) and Edwin Thomas (Robbie Ross) are his most beloved protectors till the very end. Emily Watson is his distant scorned wife who still holds a longing respect and love for her Oscar. Colin Morgan has the meatiest role as Oscar infamous lover Alfred Bosie Douglas. The wealthy youth that caught Oscar's soul is a constant thorn in Wilde's side and his reappearances impact the Wilde journey the most. Finally Tom Wilkinson (Father Dunne) sneaks into the final act to both steal the last laughs and breathes of our beloved Oscar Wilde. Overall one of the best Brit cast you'll see this year and the film's journey is perfectly accented by their appearances.
The lasting power of the film is in the haunting and subtle score by Oscar winning composer Gabriel Yared. The time changes and movements from city to city are punctuated by Gabriel's fluid music choices. The darkest of moments are especially heightened by Yared's touch and Conroy's claustrophobic shot choices. Rupert Everett was both profound in his knowledge of Oscar but also on the feel and look of his gift to the Wilde legacy. You feel an actor has decided to give us all of his hopes and dreams into this one masterful work of art.
A film not to miss.
For my North Texans make sure to catch Rupert Everett's visit to our fair 'burgh!!
Written & Directed by Rupert Everett