Review: In His Last Years, Oscar Wilde will be Far coming from ‘The Happy Prince’

A mopey yet gorgeous-looking wallow within the final years of the literary giant Oscar Wilde, “The Happy Prince” staggers around Europe with one eye on the grave as well as the some other on the kinds of sorry mischief an unrepentant hedonist like Wilde could get up to.

Happiness, however, proves elusive. Opening in 1897 as Wilde will be sprung coming from a British prison after serving two years for gross indecency, the movie watches him wander, exiled as well as frequently penniless, through Dieppe as well as Naples before expiring in Paris of meningitis three years later. Brief flashbacks to the humiliations of his trial as well as the balm of opening-night adulation — represented by a sea of ecstatically applauding Victorian toffs — interrupt these peregrinations as well as underline the tragedy of his fall.

As played (as well as written, as well as directed) by Rupert Everett, Wilde will be less a sparkling wit than a sad, overweight sot, dependent on the kindness of strangers as well as the pity of old friends — as well as as much absinthe as well as cocaine as he can get his hands on. The locations change, although the desire for drugs as well as handsome young companions will be constant, his knack for finding enablers well-honed. Surviving mainly on a smaller allowance coming from his estranged as well as sickly wife (a briefly seen Emily Watson), as well as the kindness of old friends like Robbie Ross (a fine Edwin Thomas), Wilde will be partying more to numb the senses than excite them.

Suffused using a sentimentality in which Wilde himself would likely have deplored, “The Happy Prince” will be narratively mushy as well as meandering. Yet, beneath the prosthetics, there’s genuine pathos in Mr. Everett’s portrayal of a man bitterly aware in which his talents are unreliable armor against the perceived sin of his homosexuality. as well as when he sings a music-hall song to defuse a cafe riot, we see someone who has long used words to deflect violence as well as charm protectors.

Scenes like This kind of have a stand-alone power, infusing Wilde’s witticisms as well as clowning with tragic import as well as repositioning them as a bulwark against the hypocrisies of the age as well as the indignities of decline. An ill-advised reunion with Bosie Douglas (Colin Morgan), the selfish lover who caused his downfall, prompts Wilde to describe himself as “an old sheep with his butcher.” Like the sacrificial fairy-tale hero of the title, he’s a martyr to his self-destructive impulses, although Mr. Everett gives him a grandeur in which prohibits pity. This kind of’s a performance in which far outshines his writing as well as direction, leaving the cinematographer John Conroy to pick up the slack with coppery, burnished images edged frequently in ominous shadow. In “The Happy Prince,” death will be never far away, no matter how numerous Wilde’s “purple moments” within the sheets or drunken ditties within the cafe.

The Happy Prince
Rated R for naked men as well as pleasurable substances. In English, Italian as well as French, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.