Everett has been clear in his assertion of how prison caused Wilde’s eventual death, and The Happy Prince is a projection of how far he fell away from his former self
Rupert Everett has made it unequivocally evident on multiple occasions how important Oscar Wilde is to him as both a writing inspiration and as a human, describing him even as a patron saint. And this love for a man who is so revered in the literary community comes across impressively well. There’s a true sense of passion and understanding lined into the features that make up The Happy Prince, even if the film’s overall tone is one of sadness and confusion.
Detailing the end of the life of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett), The Happy Prince focuses on Wilde’s life post-prison, and the profound effect it had on his personality, his personal life, and his approach to writing.
Everett, by acting, writing and directing, has his influence plastered all over the production, and has focused thematically on creating a particularly sobering tone. But this seriousness is shrouded by the personality Wilde used to have, and Everett has keenly and cleverly added in moments of nostalgia and sentimentality to shadow his past persona. Everett has been clear in his assertion of how prison caused Wilde’s eventual death, and The Happy Prince is a projection of how far he fell away from his former self.
This is not a film looking to celebrate Wilde’s life, as often late-life biopics do, but instead show how drastically Wilde changed after his two year sentence of hard labour. It’s a bold move to take, giving The Happy Prince such a melancholic undertone, but one that seems truthful and important. Far too often does cinema feel the need to show its subjects in a favourable light, rather than focus on showing the truth of the situation or the experiences.
The Happy Prince is a film with intricate personality and a thirst for explaining why Wilde became the man he did in his late life. It’s a film looking to expose those who punished Wilde for being the man he was, and almost an attempt to give reason to his actions, even if they don’t necessarily need explaining. Everett has created an honest and appropriate biopic, that details a time of Wilde’s life that few would be brave enough to spend such a time focusing upon.
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