the happy prince
DIRECTOR: rupert everett (debut)
STARRING: rupert everett, colin morgan, edwin thomas, and colin firth
REVIEWER: lyall carter
His body ailing, Oscar Wilde lives in exile, surviving on the flamboyant irony and brilliant wit that defined him.
When I was a boy one of my favourite stories was Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince. It was enthralling, fantastical, and heartbreaking all at once. Much like Rupert Everett's film, The Happy Prince.
We find Oscar Wilde living in poverty and in exile in France after facing two years hard labour after his failed attempt to sue The Marquess of Queensberry for libel. Through a series of flashbacks we witness the dramatic fall from grace of the famous literary giant into the arms of lovers and friends to his deathbed living in squalor.
Rupert Everett who not only stars as Oscar Wilde but wrote and directed the film, has created the ultimate tribute to his idol in both his starring role and in the craft he brings to the silver screen.
The story is such a very human one as Oscar is stripped, piece by piece, of fame and fortune until he is left as a shell of a man. Once clothed in riches, slowly but surely they turn to rags. Once an eloquent speaker, now grasping for words as sickness grips his body.
Narratively the story flows beautifully, wonderfully bookended by Oscar telling the story of The Happy Prince. Sometimes the temptation with flashbacks are to do them in quite an obvious way, but Everett manages to add a slightly unique touch which helps to further the story.
Everett is superb as Oscar and gives a career defining performance with the misery and mirth all etched of his existence embodied before your very eyes. There is a superb ensemble of some of the great British actors in Colin Morgan, Colin Firth, Emily Watson, and a nice little turn from Tom Wilkinson, but this film belongs to Everett and him alone.
A wonderful journey through the ecstasy and agony of the final chapters of Oscar Wilde's life with a superb performance from Rupert Everett.