Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
The Happy Prince (Lionsgate). Rupert Everett knows Oscar Wilde really well. He has appeared in An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest on screen and in David Hare’s The Judas Kiss and now he is appearing as Oscar in a film he has written and directed. He concentrates on the playwright after he comes out of prison, having served a sentence of two years for gross indecency. He goes into exile in Venice and Paris. He resumes his relationship with Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas (Colin Morgan), and leads a degrading life and dies penniless in squalor in 1900 at the age of 45. (“The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”) Everett’s performance is impressive and he often speaks in French. There are subtitle translations. His script is very literary. When I saw Oscar’s lovers, Bosie and Robbie Ross, having a punch-up at the funeral I did wonder how accurate some other scenes were.
Il Postino: The Postman (Cult Films) is a gently humorous and deeply moving account of the friendship which develops between the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) and an uneducated Sicillian postman (Massimo Troisi) when the poet is living in exile on a small Italian island. Neruda becomes his mentor and helps him write his love letters to the girl he fancies but is too shy to approach. Michael Radford’s poignant 1995 film has such warmth and humanity. Trosi’s performance as the naive, self-effacing, lonely postman is a joy to watch. His facial and physical gestures are wonderfully subtle. The film is made even more heartbreaking when you know that Troisi was seriously ill during the filming and died the day before it finally wrapped. He was only 41. He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor and Best Screenplay.