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September 12, 2010

Wilde (1997)
Director: Brian Gilbert
Actors: Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Michael Sheen

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Synopsis: The life and work of Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry).

Review: What a classy and tasteful biopic of Oscar Wilde this is. There is nothing tricksy about the narrative as it plots a whistlestop route through the major incidents of Wilde’s adult life from his marriage, past his blossoming theatrical career, to his homosexual affairs and subsequent criminal conviction and prison sentence. The production’s clear modus operandi was simply to let the top-notch cast ‘get on with it’, and they reward the film with a universally-strong set of performances. Though the picture has something of the quality of a ‘chamber piece’ with little external action and a plethora of dialogue, the period detail is still impeccable and there is a commanding, stately feel to the cinematography. Encompassing all that works with this film is the casting of Stephen Fry in the titular role. His performance is at once convincingly suave and eloquent to reflect on Wilde’s literary genius, but also surprisingly touching and sympathetic as he tries to defend his homosexuality as an aesthetic and ‘noble’ persuasion, over accusations of perversion and bestiality. (September 2009)

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