THE HAPPY PRINCE (15)
THE HAPPY PRINCE (15)
Run time: 105 Mins
Director: Rupert Everett
Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson
Synopsis: 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 humour
Rupert Everett’s directorial debut is a poignant dramatization of Oscar Wilde’s final years and the ghosts that haunted him.
In late 19th century Paris, Wilde (Everett) is out of prison but a social pariah. He swings between grief and a determination to obtain what pleasure he can from the time he has left.
With his ailing, heavy body and his mind spinning out of control, Oscar survives on the brilliant wit and flamboyant irony that defined him.
In a career defining film which he also wrote, Everett interweaves pre-and post-fall Wilde. At one point, Oscar recounts his dark fairy tale, ‘The Happy Prince’, to his children in flashbacks from Paris, where later he also tells it to a couple of street kids. Bloated and dishevelled, the old Oscar still has the appetites which sent him to prison. And he still loves ‘Bosie’, Lord Alfred Douglas (Colin Morgan) who joins Oscar in a villa in Naples for a few months’ brief reunion. Robbie Ross (Edwin Turner) and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) are the last London friends who offer loyalty and money.
Also among the stellar ensemble of UK actors is Emily Watson, shining in brief scenes as Oscar’s wife Constance, also forced into exile by his disgrace. Tom Wilkinson contributes a vivid cameo as Fr Cuthbert Dunne – the priest brought to Oscar’s hotel deathbed. The famous lines about the wallpaper and ‘dying beyond my means’ are not forgotten; and Everett has scripted a few other witty Wildean one-liners.
The Happy Prince is a credible entry into the Wilde film canon, bolstered by an acting masterclass from Everett and superlative British thespian support. All the principals have strong Wildean track records – Everett, Firth and Wilkinson appeared in Oliver Parker’s 2002 The Importance of Being Earnest, and Tom Wilkinson played the Marquis of Queensberry in Brian Gilbert’s 1997 Wilde.
Images courtesy of LIONSGATE