Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

An Ideal Rupert

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

An Ideal Rupert

Article excerpt

Rupert Everett shines in a cracking new take on Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband

* Written by Oscar Wilde

* Adapted and directed by Oliver Parker

* Starring Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Jeremy Northam, Cate Blanchett, and Minnie Driver

* Miramax

Nobody does Smug, Bored, and Narcissistic quite like Rupert Everett. Heaven knows, thousands of guys I've seen holding up the walls at Chelsea bars have tried, but you know that just beneath the surface it's just Afraid. With Everett the SBN pose feels to the manner bom.

Blessed with such qualities, he's a natural to play an Oscar Wilde hero. Lately, though, he's been too Expensive, Overextended, and Camera-struck to bother himself with a long nm on the stage. But someone had the ridiculous notion to bring Wilde's windy theatrical potboiler An Ideal Husband once more to the screen (the Brits did it in 1948) and then had the smarts to figure out how to pull it off.

Director-screenwriter Oliver Parker has trimmed the cellulite, slicing much of the numbingly expositional first act, cutting some roles and juicing up others, then assembling a dream cast and asking them to have a ball. Parker tightens the cord on Wilde's melodramatic contrivances and invests the campy epigrams with sitcom-y verve, giving it a slick, post-Dynasty immediacy that had the yuppy-puppy test crowd with whom I saw it rapt with attention. The upshot is a brisk, eye-popping 95 minutes that combines the resplendence of Merchant-Ivory with the spryness of Nicholas Hytner.

The promo package endows this seriocomedy, which concerns lies and corruption in high-government corridors at the crest of a century, with metacontemporary urgency. But it's really about style. As professional roue and lounger Lord Goring, Everett wears practically an entire English garden in his lapel before the final fade-out [see story on page 136]. Between the lilies and the lavender eau de toilette that he undoubtedly bathes in (you can smell it, I swear), you haft expect bees to be swarming around his neck.

There is one rather large hornet in the person of Mrs. Cheveley, a scheming arriviste who'll stop at nothing to win Goring's filthy-rich hand in marriage and get government support for a scare she is financing. Toward the latter half of the film, she hatches a wicked stratagem, using blackmail and bribery to browbeat an endorsement out of rising House of Commons star Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam, this generation's somberly masculine heir apparent to Laurence Olivier and Jeremy Irons). …

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