The Happy Prince

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I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, and if I go, I’ll be sure to visit the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It’s where Frederic Chopin and Edith Piaf are buried, and my two favorite writers — Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.

Wilde and Morrison have a few other things in common. Both were self-destructive alcoholics who died young. Had Wilde not being jailed for his homosexuality and lived a full life, I think he would’ve been the most prolific playwright of all time (okay, perhaps behind Shakespeare).

So it was with excitement that I heard Rupert Everett finally got this film made (after 10 years working on it). It’s his first time behind the camera, and he wrote, produced, and starred (with some prosthetics). Wilde afficianadoes might recall, Everett also starred in The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband.

It’s unfortunate that this movie is a vanity project that just doesn’t work. Now, it’s not a normal biopic. It merely deals with the last few years of his life. That’s a shame. It’s almost like if you went to see the Queen movie coming out in a few weeks, only to find that they dealt with the last few years of Freddie Mercury dying from AIDS, and nothing else in his life.

This is one of the rare movies that when they delve into flashbacks, it makes it harder to follow the story. It’s also a bummer that only one that I recall, showed him onstage introducing one of his plays. Certainly more humor could’ve been added.

There are a few heartbreaking moments, as a disgraced Wilde is sometimes recognized by fans. One moment (you see in the trailers) shows a woman running up to him to say hello, only to have him ask for some money.

One of Wilde’s lovers, Lord Alfred Boise Douglas (Colin Morgan), comes across as rather unlikable. Perhaps he was a self-absorbed character in real life, but it doesn’t make it a joy to watch these two together.

Wilde’s wife Constance (the always great Emily Watson) isn’t in much of the movie. It was slightly interesting to see how she deals with their kids, his indiscretions, and an allowance she sends him.

We see a few of Wilde’s friends. There’s Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth). Their interactions with the writer often bring a bit of warmth and humor that the film needed. And it seemed they were the only two that didn’t suffer from his manipulative wrath.

The title “The Happy Prince” is a short story/poem Wilde wrote, and it’s amusing to see him telling that story to various kids.

It’s just a shame that, since most people don’t know much about Oscar Wilde…that this film gives you no sense of who he was.

The cinematography is good (although many scenes were rather dark, which I’m sure was the intention). There’s also a lovely score by Gabriel Yared.

It was just tough to sit through the many slow scenes.

1 ½ stars out of 5, despite a performance that will probably get Everett an Oscar nomination.

Speaking of Rupert Everett, you can see him live doing a Q&A with the crowds after the 5:00 pm showing at the Angelika Film Center on October 20th, and after the 7:15 showing at the Landmark Hillcrest.

 

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