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The Happy Prince Review - Strong Cast, Solid Directing, Brings to Life the Final Days of the Literary Genius

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The Happy Prince, from Sony Picture Classics, brings to the screen the directorial debut of Rupert Evert presenting the previously untold story of the final days of literary genius Oscar Wilde after his return from prison.

Directed, written and starring Rupert Evert, The Happy Prince also stars Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan, Tom Wilkinson, Edwin Thomas, Anna Chancellor, Julian Wadham, Beatrice Dalle, Andre Penvern and Antonio Spagnuolo.

The Happy Prince begins on a dark, foggy London street as a trio of posh, well dressed, theaters goers pass a older, gentleman who casually looks in the eyes of the women who has an instant memory of a night, years ago, at the theatre when he in a tuxedo and she in her finery with her friends were enraptured by his work and wit.


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Turning, leaving her friends, she followed, slowly living the remembrance and calling his name, "Mr. Wilde," we hear. He continues deeper into the night, through a darkened black alley, she follow and her two companions shocked she would notice the rough on the street follow her. Soon the man she calls Mr. Wilde stops and she simply thanks him for the nights of pleasure at the theatre. She asks kindly what she can do for him, as we see hard times have fallen upon the once toast of London society and, as history would record, a man of literary brilliance and shamelessly he asks for money.

By this time her companions reach her, voicing manly charges of physical challenges, as if Mr. Wilde, played by Rupert Evert, had somehow cast a spell upon the women and drew her wordlessly to follow him into he darkened corners where the posh only whisper of the horrors.

At this point with money in his pocket, she was quite generous showering an old man with appreciation of past days, he does the first thing an addict does when one becomes flush, feeds the needs.

The next scene show him, in a bar with two young, clearly underage boys. The older of the two is a male prostitute and now as Wilde has both money for drugs and sex, he must first gain approval from the younger brother who explains, he must tell them a story after.

As the film continues the beginnings show Oscar Wilde a very singular soul. Lonely, at times, and clearly alone, he has fallen from a high perch and now resides in a single room occupancy hotel where not only is he behind on his rent, he is sickly.

We also meet Oscar Wilde’s wife Constance, played by Emily Watson, a well to do heiress who supports the dramatist, even in his failings and philandering’s. They had two children.

The film travels from London, with flashes of his time in prison, his release, and imposed exile and even then as when Wilder was older, sickly, not the virile man of his youth, a bit overweight, the love of his life, the traitor to his existence, was still controlling him, twisting his mind, filling him with despair, blinding him to the place where he couldn’t see the love of those who stayed through the tragedy, the pain, the sickness.

Wilde, for those whom are not familiar with the literary virtuoso life and existence, traveled from the highest pinnacles of London society, a homosexual in a time when there were not rights for openly gay men and those who attempted to push the issue were jailed.

Oscar and his lover, a Lord Alfred Douglas, played by Colin Morgan, a tortured man, who after a lengthy love affair with Wilde became his worst enemy. It was a love affair of which Wilde would never recover. He was arrested and charged with gross indecency and sodomy. His erotic and explicit letters to Douglas were entered as evidence and the once brilliant playwright was imprisoned.

A solid directorial debut from Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince evokes a range of emotions especially as the season chosen was such a dark period in the life of the dramatist. The hatred society felt for this man and his own personal feelings of despair and self-loathing are very well presented translating easily bringing to mind seasons of hardship or despair.

Rupert Everett delivers a captivating performance as Oscar Wilde. In each scene, each movement, every nuance he presented him with dignity. And understandably, at times Wilde was so emotionally low, conceivably he couldn’t see up, although he did receive a stipend from his wife, the memories of better days were always present no matter how harsh reality hit. And we get that from Everett.


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A seasoned, acclaimed and award winning ensemble of talent add shade, tone and life to the memory of one of the worlds greatest literary minds ensuring the dark season is told and presented realistically.

The Happy Prince recently screened as a Special Gala screening at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival. Having the chance to speak with Mr. Everett during he recent media, an except of our conversation will follow.

The Happy Prince opens October 10, 2018. See it.

 

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