Wilde (1997) Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Jennifer Ehle, Gemma Jones, Judy Parfitt, Michael Sheen - movie review on The Movie Scene

Wilde (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Stephen Fry in Wilde (1997)

Simply Oscar

When Oscar (Stephen Fry) married his wife, Constance (Jennifer Ehle) he loved her and they even had two sons. But for Oscar he always felt an attraction to men including friends Robbie Ross (Michael Sheen) and John Gray (Ioan Gruffudd). But it is Lord Alfred Douglas (Jude Law) who captures Oscar's heart despite the fact that Alfred, who he called Bosie, being a petulant young man who would cause him much heart ache. It is also Bosie who becomes Oscar's downfall at is Bosie's father, The Marquess of Queensberry (Tom Wilkinson), who sets about seeing that Oscar pays for his acts of indecency with his son leading to Oscar's 2 years sentence to hard labour.

I have never been much of a scholar of the written work and even less interested in those famous authors whose literary works have inspired some of my favourite movies, I blame the education system for making reading such a dry experience when I was at school. It is for that reason when I sat down to watch "Wilder" the biopic of playwright Oscar Wilde I did so with the minimum knowledge of his life other than knowing he was sent to prison for acts of homosexuality and some of the plays he had written. It may be that my limited knowledge played into my favour as I found "Wilde" engaging pretty much from start to finish.

Jude Law in Wilde (1997)

But here is the thing about "Wilde", this felt like a movie made very much for the likes of me who didn't have the knowledge and as such it is an easy to digest lesson in Wilde's life. We learn about his Irish roots, his relationship to his wife, his love of his children and also his fondness for both Robbie but also Bosie. We also get to see his downfall thanks to Bosie's angry father and see how prison life destroyed him both physically and mentally. But for me I just didn't feel the depth to this, I didn't feel like I got to know how Wilde really felt when it came to making a stand, in a way it almost feels a little reserved in places as if those involved didn't want to try and bring out the emotional character depth of Wilde or any of those he was close to.

That brings me to the acting and through out everyone does a nice job of playing their parts be it Stephen Fry as Oscar Wilde or Michael Sheen as Robbie Ross. But to be honest beyond Fry's performance as Wilde I know I won't remember the others because that character depth isn't there to make them come to life.

What this all boils down to is that "Wilde" is certainly an entertaining and education biopic, especially for those with little knowledge of Oscar Wilde. But for me the depth of emotion and character depth doesn't really present itself to make this feel anything more than a walk through of Oscar Wilde's life and conviction.


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