The Happy Prince (2018)

The Happy Prince
Director: Rupert Everett
Writer: Rupert Everett
Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson, Anna Chancellor, Tom Wilkinson, Béatrice Dalle, Edwin Thomas
Seen on: 6.6.2018

Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) has been through hell and he knows that he won’t make it much longer. Reflecting on some of the most important relationships in his life – with his wife Constance (Emily Watson), his great love Alfred Bosie (Colin Morgan), his friend Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas) – he keeps returning to one question: how did things end up the way they did?

Oscar Wilde is a fascinating figure and looking at the darker moments of his life is certainly interesting. Unfortunately, the way the story is told in this film doesn’t work at all. In fact, it’s pretty bad.

Film poster for The Happy Prince (2018), showing Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde and Colin Morgan as Alfred Bosie Douglas walking down some steps in the sunshine.

When people think about Oscar Wilde, what they think of is the dandy, the witty socialite, the success. That he went to prison for homosexuality and that he never really got his life back after that is something that we tend to forget and gloss over. So, approaching him from that angle certainly feels like a worthwhile endeavor.

Unfortunately, it’s an endeavor that should have been undertaken by somebody else. I appreciate Everett as an actor – and he isn’t bad here, either. As an actor. As a director and a writer, he really sucks, I’m afraid to say. Especially the script is really, really bad. I don’t know how often it made me cringe – like when Oscar tells bedtime stories to the sexworker he just fucked and the sexworker’s little brother, reflecting on how much they remind him of his own children.

Rupert Everett (Oscar Wilde) in the Happy Prince.

The film is exhausting, boring and in its worst moments it’s problematic to boot. It doesn’t feel like it knows what it’s doing at all. But at least there are many good people in it – it appears, Everett wasn’t hesitant about using the people he knows (and he shouldn’t have been – they are often the best part of any given scene).

It’s disappointing – I wanted the film to be more than it was. But at least I know now why the film practically disappeared and barely came to the cinema at all. It’s not the world’s worst film, but it certainly isn’t good, either.

Colin Morgan (Alfred Bosie Douglas) in The Happy Prince

Summarizing: Skip it.

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