Film Scouts Reviews


by Robin J. Schwartz

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May 1, 1998

Say the words "Oscar Wilde" and most people think: brilliant, witty, flamboyant...and very, very gay. But did you know he was married? Or that his great love, Sir Alfred Douglas (known as "Bosie"), was a spoiled, manipulative brat who insisted that Wilde partake in romps at the era's equivalent of Plato's Retreat? These tidbits, and more, are revealed in director Brian Gilbert's fiercely intriguing (and, he assures us, historically accurate) portrait of history's most famous purveyor of the bon mot. Stephen Fry (himself an actor, playwright, novelist and comedian) portrays the literary icon with great heart and even greater dignity. Jude Law is suitably infuriating as Bosie. And Tom Wilkinson - in the farthest cry imaginable from "The Full Monty" - is chillingly unrecognizable as Bosie's father, whose psychotic fury at his son's affair instigates Wilde's trial and ultimate destruction. So what if Vanessa Redgrave is inscrutable as Wilde's poetess mother and the film has about 10 minutes too many of Wilde and Bosie mooning at each other? If only school history lessons had been like this!

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