Rupert Everett directs, writes, and stars in the story of writer and bon vivant par excellence Oscar Wilde’s precipitous decline — healthwise and otherwise — following his release from two years’ hard labor in prison for the shocking (shocking) crime of sodomy. Everett embodies Wilde as a magnificent ruin, broken asunder by the disparate forces at work within his breast: devoted to pleasure even as he seeks to plumb the mystery of suffering, devoted to wife and children even as he cavorts with lovely young men, devoted to the rigors of his art even as he practices dissipation, and devoted to Queen and Country even as he seeks refuge in other kingdoms and the blessings of other kings. But even the ruin shows forth the grace and intelligence of the unbroken edifice, and Everett’s decision to frame his story using the titular children’s tale from Wilde makes for simple but effective heartbreak amid the complicated stuff of adult relations. It’s a passion project that never devolves into mere passion; a sober (if loving) look at an inebriated soul. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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