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“Why should a perfectly divine leopard change his spots?
” Wilde asks, though Everett’s film, at once indulgent and somewhat undernourished, captures its subject some way past his era of divinity.
At points, Everett rather touchingly essays the protective irony that endures in a spirit otherwise crumpled by heartbreak, imprisonment and public shaming; he moves with the shambling body language of a larger-than-life man now doing his level best not to be seen.
As a final, permanent showcase for a role Everett was born to play, then, “The Happy Prince” does the job.
Everett also blamed homophobia for his predicament: never hiding his sexuality as a gay man, Everett later said that being out limited his film roles.
Now Everett headlines his most personal project to date: a biopic of gay author Oscar Wilde, , his views on Hollywood, and why Oscar invented homosexuality as we know it today.
The out-and-proud Brit established his affinity for Wilde’s limber, witty language in Oliver Parker’s springy screen adaptations of “An Ideal Husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest,” before getting more seriously into the skin of the Irish literary giant for David Hare’s biographical play “The Judas Kiss” — a work with which “The Happy Prince” partially overlaps in its focus on the toxic disintegration of Wilde’s and Bosie’s affair.
Cribbed shamelessly from Hitchcock, it’s the kind of lightly saucy visual gag you might expect in a film directed by waggish thesp Rupert Everett, but its daintiness strikes a false note in a biopic otherwise dedicated to the honest passions and anguish of a man best known for his archness.Obviously, for me, Oscar Wilde is a kind of patron saint of all that.He’s another showbusiness character who charted a gay course.It’s neither the first nor the last well-meaning misstep in Everett’s ornate writing-directing debut, which chronicles Wilde’s destitute final years in France as a tangle of memory streams, boozy vignettes and flashbacks within flashbacks, but sometimes loses sight of the man behind the aesthete.A big-screen vehicle for Everett as Wilde has, of course, been a long time coming.