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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.The €26m ( million) series is produced by Italian production company Palomar, the firm behind , which is set in the Middle Ages, was previously made into a feature film starring Christian Slater and Sean Connery and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud in 1986.The story follows Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his apprentice Adso who witness a series of murders at a secluded monastery in the Alps.Would that Emily Watson, largely wasted in her few brief scenes as Wilde’s estranged, embittered wife Constance, were given as many notes to play; a typically reserved Colin Firth, also taking an executive producer credit, adds little but marquee value in an extended cameo as Wilde’s loyal friend and peer Reggie Turner.“The Happy Prince” gains some heated, enlivening pique when it touches on the subject of Wilde’s continued homophobic bullying by onlookers and the system alike, played in terms that still strike an anxious chord in 2018.
Cinematographer John Conroy favors chiefly autumnal, varnish-darkened shades, which join Gabriel Yared’s stately score in lending proceedings an elegiac tone from the outset: fair early warning for audiences that Oscar Wilde the blithe humorist will be making sporadic appearances, at best, in a biopic that places great importance on being earnest.Obviously, for me, Oscar Wilde is a kind of patron saint of all that.He’s another showbusiness character who charted a gay course.Skipping back and forth across his exile period, “The Happy Prince” winds up principally sketching a rough love triangle between Wilde, the teasing, manipulative Bosie (a pristine, suitably petulant Colin Morgan) and Wilde’s more tenderly devoted literary executor Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), which alternately intensifies and dissipates across years and European borders.(A German-Belgian-Italian co-production, the film duly puts its multinational production credits up on screen.) Ross’s weary, take-and-take relationship with his client, friend and sometime lover gives the film its most quietly moving thread, buoyed by Thomas’s stoic, softly sorrowful performance.