Actor-turned-director Rupert Everett takes a stab at embodying the dandy that was the prolific writer Oscar Wilde in his own passion project, The Happy Prince.

It is no surprise that Everett took it upon himself to write, direct and star in this tribute to Wilde. Everett first showed his fancy for the Irish playwright decades ago with roles in the film adaptations of Wilde’s plays, The Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. But the untold story of the artist’s bleak last days in exile was one that had yet to be seen.

Wilde was known for his outlandish, larger-than-life spirit. But Everett, covered in pale, white make-up, choose to portray Wilde’s somber last days in a small town in France. Alas, he also successfully pulls off the younger, livelier Wilde when the audience is exposed in flashbacks of the charismatic artist in his party days… before he was shunned by society.

For those who don’t know history, after Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency with men” in the late 1890s, he became an outcast. He went from being a jewel of a socialite and a famous flamboyant playwright to a social leper. While the film focuses on this era after his fall from grace, it’s not all desolate.

Everett takes us back to years before when a younger Wilde was with his family and struggling with his desires for men. The proud Brit does a superb job of illustrating Wilde’s quiet suffering while having to pretend to be devoted to his somewhat bitter wife (Emily Watson) during his taboo love triangle with cunning lover Alfred Douglas aka “Boise” (Colin Morgan) and stoic editor Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas). But as Wilde states in the film, “suffering is nothing when there is love…. love is everything.”

Human suffering is a recurring theme in the film, which is likely why Everett chose to focus on this somewhat poetic, and reflective period of Wilde’s life.

The Happy Prince touches on all too familiar tonality when we see first-hand the bullying Wilde endured during a time when homophobia ran rampant. After Wilde was outed, it was as if society banished him. A tone that strikes a melancholy chord even today.

Cinematographer John Conroy’s cold, dark tones flow perfectly with Gabriel Yared’s majestic score. These components infused with Everett’s fervor make for a trifecta of a biopic that is the ultimate toast to a great mind’s unnecessary suffering.