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The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realization of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage, fatherhood and responsibility with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. After legal action instigated by Bosie's father, the enraged Marquise of Queensberry, Wilde refused to flee the country and was sentenced to two years at hard labor by the courts of an intolerant Victorian society. Written by
Peter Samuelson <email@example.com>
Playwright, celebrated wit and persecuted homosexual Oscar Wilde is excellently portrayed by Stephen Fry in this biopic but without a hint of the expected waspishness. Instead, we see Wilde as a kindly, sensitive, almost avuncular man. What's more surprising is the parallel absence of manifest sordidness, self-loathing, or desperation, which one might have assumed would have been par for the course in an age where homosexuality was stigmatised and criminal. But as 'Wilde' tells it, Oscar, on discovering his true nature in early middle age, then enjoyed a number of halcyon years in a gay literary milieu, tensioned only by the childish behaviour of his lover, Bosie, and was taken quite by surprise when he suddenly became a figure of public scandal. Which may have been the case, but it makes for a less pressing and gripping drama than one might have hoped for. What's interesting is Wilde's defence in court, which has very little to do with "normal" homosexual behaviour or ordinary human relationships, but which rather comprised a divine idealisation of the bond between a wise older person and a beautiful younger one: hardly the sort of argument that gay rights campaigners would make today. A special credit should go to the team responsible for allowing Fry to appear so convincingly both a dashing young twenty year old and a ruined man, on the verge of death. But this is a mild and indulgent film.
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