Rupert Everett is certainly no stranger in his career to Oscar Wilde having been in two film adaptations of his plays, An Ideal Husband & The Importance of Being Earnest and more recently he was in the revival of David Hare’s play The Judas Kiss. So who better to write, direct and star in a film about Wilde’s last, lost days in France & Italy and a glorious sumptuous spectacle it is.
He has gathered together a stellar cast, Colin Firth as Reggie Turner, Wilde’s loyal friend, Emily Watson as his wife Constance, Colin Morgan (Merlin & Legend) as Alfred “Bosie” Douglas and Edwin Thomas as Robbie Ross a devoted lover who became his literary executor. Filmed stunningly by cinematographer John Conroy and a musical score by Oscar winner Gabriel Yared. All of this is a great achievement and it shows!
Following Wilde’s release from jail for having his then-scandalous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas he fled to Europe to recover and end his days in exile. In Paris enjoying the demimonde life, there is a wonderful scene in a music hall/bar where he is encouraged to sing a music hall song “The Boy I Love is up in the Balcony” which descends into a joyous chaotic revelry beautifully filmed and directed. Everett excelled in this scene but look out for Beatrice Dalle too as the Cafe Manager.
In Naples, Italy a debauched orgy of young lovers in a run-down villa reminiscent of the scene in Visconti’s “The Damned” watched over by Wilde.
There are so many great moments to relish in this movie sad, reflective, joyous, poignant as when in flashback reading his short story “The Happy Prince” to his children.
There is much to admire in this film, a feast for the eyes in sets and costume, great acting – Rupert Everett has never been better and relax and relish in this tale of the last days of the great Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde.
P.S. There was a recent documentary by Alan Yentob, “Imagine….. Rupert Everett: Born to be Wide” chronicling his ten-year struggle to get this film made which at present can only be viewed in the UK on BBC Player!
Review : Peter Harrington