Writer/director/star Rupert Everett explores the last decade in the life of Oscar Wilde with a pinballing chronology that makes it hard to build the emotional force it’s seeking. The principal story opens in 1900, as a near-destitute Wilde (Everett) lives in exile in Paris after his two-year prison term for “gross indecency” (read: homosexuality). Flashbacks take us to various other points in his timeline: the prison term itself; his release and arrival in France in 1897 with remaining friends Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) and Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas); a stay in Naples with his lover Bosie (Colin Morgan). Everett awkwardly juggles his various characters—including token moments with Wilde’s wife (Emily Watson)—only sporadically latching onto the despair inside Wilde over his fall from fame and favor. Indeed, it feels at times like the more compelling narrative deals with Robbie’s unrequited devotion to Wilde, and the tension it creates with Bosie. The finale tries hard to pack a sense of regret and unjust punishment into Wilde’s deathbed hours, but overall the narrative remains frustrating in showing snippets of a life without conveying how much was torn away from it.
Director: Rupert Everett
Producer: Sébastien Delloye, Philipp Kreuzer and Jörg Schulze
Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Tom Wilkinson, John Standing, Anna Chancellor, Julian Wadham, André Penvern and Joshua McGuire