Parents' Guide to

The Happy Prince

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Sex, language in drama about Oscar Wilde's last days.

Movie R 2018 105 minutes
The Happy Prince Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

A compelling film

A must see for mature audiences who are aware of Oscar Wilde’s stature as literary figure, admire his work, and abhor the tragic twists and turns he had to endure in his lifetime, during the merciless Victorian era. Beautifully written screen play, exquisite acting, and brilliant directing. Rupert Everett: sheer genius. Under no circumstances, however, should this film be watched by teens between ages 14-17, unless they are emotionally mature for their age and watch it along with well informed family members willing to discuss the film with them and intellectually and emotionally able to confront the many questions teenagers may pose in the process.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This biographical drama feels lived in and profound as it jumps around in Wilde's memories and feelings. The Happy Prince isn't a standard biopic. It focuses tightly on the brief, final period of Wilde's life, long after his greatest works were produced. It moves around in time. It makes no effort to lionize its subject. It's a dark, ugly situation, but -- as you might expect -- it's buoyed somewhat by Wilde's legendary wit. Some lines are appropriately lifted from his life ("I'm in mortal combat with this wallpaper," he tells a visiting friend, from what would turn out to be his deathbed: "One of us must go."). Others were added by Everett in his debut as a writer-director (he says to his estranged lover, whose father was responsible for Wilde's incarceration, "Let's talk about more cheerful things. Your father's death, for instance.").

Wilde is a role that Everett's fans have long been eager for him to play on screen, though perhaps not at this stage of decrepitude (he previously tackled Wilde on stage in 2014's heralded The Judas Kiss). The English actor is much transformed to become the deteriorating, bloated, fractured Wilde. (His portrayal is one that Wilde himself might have called a heroism of no other attractive options.) The so-mightily fallen writer keeps his wits and spirit about him, for the most part, as his world crumbles. Among the supporting cast, Thomas distinguishes himself as Wilde's loyal friend, Robbie; his concern and unrequited love for Wilde are palpable. And Everett directs with remarkable confidence from his carefully considered script. The movie's title comes from one of Wilde's children's stories, cleverly selected as an occasional touchstone for the film. He narrates the tale in pieces throughout the film, an odd mix of beautiful and terrible images, only revealing its true meaning -- and its symbolic comment on Wilde's own fate -- in the end.

Movie Details

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