A conventional biopic adapted from Richard Ellmann's celebrated life of Oscar Wilde with surprising emotional resonance. We meet Wilde (Stephen Fry) in 1882, as the famed playwright and satirist is wrapping up a tour of America before returning home to
England to marry Constance (Jennifer Ehle), with whom he eventually has two sons. Wilde discovers his homosexuality when acolyte Robert Ross (Michael Sheen) presses his ripe young flesh upon his intellectual mentor. Before you know it, Wilde is on a rampage of discovery, ditching Ross for
ever-younger conquests. His undoing is the dashingly handsome and petulant Lord Alfred Douglas (Jude Law) aka Bosie, who fancies himself a poet. Bosie bullies and cajoles Wilde into spending money extravagantly and introduces him to a dissipated life spent picking up rent boys and taking in the
sights at various London dens of iniquity. Bosie also flaunts their relationship with the explicit aim of needling his brutish father, the Marquess of Queensberry (Tom Wilkinson). The Marquess is not amused, and the results of Bosie and Wilde's legal confrontation with Queensberry weren't pretty:
Wilde was imprisoned and both financially and socially ruined. What the filmmakers achieve and Fry's stellar performance makes credible is a seamless inter-weaving of Wilde's creative endeavors, such as the writing and staging of Lady Windemere's Fan and The Importance of Being
Earnest, and the public and private drama of his life. Since Wilde's not-so-private life was crawling with handsome young things, there's lots of cavorting with young male flesh on display. Some viewers will be shocked (others will be delighted) by the prurient display, but Fry's performance
gets to the very depths of this fascinating and doomed artist.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: A conventional biopic adapted from Richard Ellmann's celebrated life of Oscar Wilde with surprising emotional resonance. We meet Wilde (Stephen Fry) in 1882, as the famed playwright and satirist is wrapping up a tour of America before returning home to En… (more)