Top positive review
Wilde about Oscar
2 July 2018
The film dramatises Oscar Wilde’s latter years, between his release from prison and his death in Paris in 1900.
It is very much character driven with writer and director Rupert Everett giving a great physical performance of Wilde in decline. It is a nuanced portrayal. Wilde has clearly suffered disproportionately for what were then crimes. He is effectively in exile from the family he loves and the society that once lauded him. However, Everett doesn’t make a virtue of suffering, showing Wilde with all the human weaknesses that exacerbate his situation. While he is living in reduced circumstances, there are poorer inhabitants of his neighbourhood who have to do a lot worse to survive that tap up old friends for money.
The script shows Wilde with remaining flashes of wit tempered by pathos. Any of the famous quotes are integrated into the dialogue in a way that lends them greater irony rather than making them feel staged. The actual tale of The Happy Prince, retold in French to his regular rent boy and younger brother, acts as both a metaphor for someone removed from his pedestal and a trigger for scenes of happier times with his own children.
The confident direction uses space and colour to great effect. The initial wide shots of northern France and Italy, close down to a more claustrophobic Paris with a shallower depth of field and tight angles to show confinement. The active bar and theatre scenes are full of people, like a Renoir painting and lit like a Manet. They are beautiful to look at but also capture a real sense of the period.
Beautiful and moving.