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Non-Review Review: The Happy Prince

“I am my own Judas,” explains Oscar Wilde around the midway point of The Happy Prince.

Just in case the audience doesn’t get the point, The Happy Prince is saturated with religious iconography and constant reminders of how Oscar Wilde was his own worst enemy. At one early point, Wilde confronts a group of homophobes in a church. At another, Wilde reflects on the local church that he visits for solace and how it reminds him what it is to suffer. Towards the end of the film, a priest is summoned to deliver the last rites, the splashing of holy water juxtaposed with the spit and venom of a mob in flashback.

Wilde at heart.

The Happy Prince is not an especially subtle or nuanced film, which is somewhat ironic for a biography about the life and times of one of the greatest witticists in history. Wilde was one of the most eloquent writers in the English language, as much in his personal correspondence as in any of the plays or stories that he wrote. As such, there is something strange in the bluntness of The Happy Prince, perhaps most transparently in the way that the film bends over backwards to construct a portrait of the writer’s final days that conforms to the eponymous story.

The Happy Prince is a story about a fascinating subject with a compelling central performance, but constructed in such a clumsy manner that the performance of Everett the actor cannot anchor the film of Everett the director.

It could use some fine tuning…

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Non-Review Review: The Look of Love

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Paul Raymond (or “Paul Ray-monde!” as he introduces himself in flashback) is a pretty compelling character. The so-called “king of Soho”, Raymond was at one point the wealthiest man in Britain, owning an empire built on the back of gentlemen’s clubs, pornography and property. Michael Winterbottom’s exploration of Raymond’s life and times is a fascinating exploration of a very contradictory figure. On one hand, with his sharp suits and dignified dialogue with the press, Raymond presented himself as something approaching a gentlemen. He owned a nice house, his children partook of “all the right activities” and he was even fond of quoting Oscar Wilde. On the other hand, his empire was founded and built on an idea that was so simplistic it would be condescending if it wasn’t so successful: Raymond acquired his wealth through simple acknowledgement of the fact that people will pay to look at naked women.

All that glitters...

All that glitters…

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The Judas Kiss at the Gaiety Theatre (Review)

Rupert Everett is amazing as Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, with the veteran actor’s enthusiasm for all things Wildean seeping into the very fabric of David Hare’s examination of the Irish writer’s tragedy (or folly, depending on how sympathetic you are). Ably supported by fantastic ensemble, lavish set design and solid direction, The Judas Kiss is a rare theatrical pleasure. David Hare’s script manages to entertain and engage without ever seeming to pander, or without ever seeming too forced or obvious, and Everett provides a stunning portrait of a man struggling with his own ideas of fate and determinism.

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The Picture of Dorian Grey at the Abbey Theatre (Review)

Neil Bartlett’s take on The Picture of Dorian Grey sounds like it might be a good idea on paper, but it doesn’t really come off in the execution. Oscar Wilde’s dark and sinister gothic horror has a timeless quality to it, but Bartlett’s interpretation of the material seems a little too shallow. Given the subject matter, you could argue that’s a good thing, but it sadly doesn’t make for the most satisfying of results.

Shades of Grey…

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Non-Review Review: Dorian Gray

I thought that monster remake mania wasn’t kicking off until The Wolfman finally gets released? This Oscar Wilde adaptation is an odd beast: one part slow, stately and almost cumbersome exploration of a boy who can never grow up and another part Universal horror movie for the MTV generation. It’s a very strange mix which works in parts and fails in others. I’m fairly sure I’m satisfied with my viewing experience, if not completely won over.

The portrait of the writer as a young man?

The portrait of the writer as a young man?

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