(Cert 15, 105mins) IT TOOK Rupert Everett 10 years to make his film about Oscar Wilde’s final years. And you can feel that burning passion in his brilliant performance as the writer and famous wit.
On this evidence, if Everett hadn’t wasted his best years hanging around with Madonna in New York, he would now be recognised as one of this nation’s finest living actors.
Everett, who wrote and directed the film, ambitiously frames it with Wilde’s story of The Happy Prince. In flashbacks Wilde tells the story to his own children in London and to two street urchins in Paris, where he fled after serving a two-year sentence at Reading Gaol for “gross indecency with men” .
There is also a long middle section where Wilde’s lover Bosie (an excellent Colin Morgan) joins him in Naples where they bicker and blow through the young aristocrat’s allowance.
Wilde fans will no doubt pore over every beautifully lit frame.
Despite Everett’s brilliant performance I am less convinced of Everett’s talents as a writer and director. He is clearly outraged by the injustice of Wilde’s fall from grace but never quite forges an emotional connection with the audience. (Cert 15, 99mins) THIS engrossing documentary takes us through the doors of Studio 54, the almost mythical New York nightclub that was the ultimate celebrity hangout of the late 1970s.
As director Matt Tyrnauer reveals, its meteoric rise was as much down to the queue outside the club as what happened on the dancefloor.
The club operated a brutal door policy, turning people away for not being famous or fashionable enough, so there was always a huge crowd outside on the street, clamouring to get in while news crews filmed them.
And the more ruthless the bouncers became, the more people wanted to get in.
Tyrnauer also sits down with Ian Schrager, one of the club’s two founders. His flamboyant partner Steve Rubell died in 1989 so it falls to this self-confessed “introvert” to talk us through the club’s rise and fall.
What he reveals feels more suited to a blockbuster as the club’s eventful 33-month reign involved drugs, intrigue, debauchery, fraud and even the Mafia. Tyrnauer never shies away from asking the difficult questions and you feel Schrager has waited decades to get all of this off his chest. (Cert 15, 83mins) TIMOTHY SPALL reveals hidden talents and an unexpected dark side in this bizarre indie drama.
The film, co-written with director Stephen Cookson, is a one-man show that Spall has described as a cross between Kind Hearts And Coronets and Eraserhead.
Here Spall plays what appears to be the sole inmate in a psychiatric hospital who hallucinates encounters with several icons of British comedy.
The make-up is excellent but Spall’s impressions are a mixed bag. His Max Wall and Tony Hancock are entertaining but George Formby seems off-key.
Spall’s enthusiastic turns aren’t enough to power a feature film. With better jokes and a much tighter plot this might have been a less difficult watch. (Cert 15, 118mins) THIS fascinating Italian drama explores a Romani community where a 14-year-old boy called Pio (Pio Amato) is desperate to become head of the family after his father and older brother are sent to jail for burglary.
Writer-director Jonas Carpignano is working very much in the Italian neo-realist tradition, using amateur actors and shooting in The Ciambra, the Romani ghetto in Gioia Tauro in Calabria. He captures a community in transition where the nomadic lifestyle known to Pio’s grandfather is coming to an end and the Roma are eking out a living as hired thieves for local crime lords.
The plot feels loose but the performances are mesmerising.
WILDE AT HEART: Morgan and Everett star in The Happy Prince