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Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde

“THE HAPPY PRINCE” My rating: B

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Actor Rupert Everettt — who announced that he was gay long before it was fashionable — has for years dreamed of bringing the story of Oscar Wilde to the screen.

The years of preparation have paid off. If Everett’s “The Happy Prince” (he wrote, directed and stars in it) is a sumptuously produced downer that seems to wander, there is no ignoring his performance, which is somehow both deeply personal and monumental.

“…Prince” centers on the last three years of Wilde’s life, spent in exile in Europe after he completed a two-year sentence in British prisons for “gross indecencies with men,”  specifically his affair with young Lord Alfred Douglas.

We meet the great writer in his last impoverished weeks in Paris, cadging cash off anyone who’ll sympathize and blowing it on absinthe, cocaine and young male prostitutes. (His favorites are a pair of brothers whom he compensates with coins and a serialized retelling of his children’s story “The Happy Prince”.)

He’s a pathetic portrait of dissipation — all bloat, lank hair, rouged cheeks and shabby cape — but the famous Wilde wit is ever in evidence. “There is no mystery as great as suffering,” he observes.

The film then flashes back to Wilde’s release from prison three years earlier, his escape across the Channel and his reunion with his beloved “Bosie” (Colin Morgan), a beautiful but spoiled wanker of spectacular selfishness; Lord Alfred sticks around only until his mother threatens to cut off his stipend.

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