Tag Archives: Rupert Everett

Fire Walk with Me

She Will

by Hope Madden

There is nothing quite like an excellent set of cheekbones.

The effortlessly elegant and formidable Alice Krige and her fine cheekbones deliver another quietly powerful performance in director Charlotte Colbert’s bewitching horror, She Will.

Krige is Veronica, an actress seeking some time away from prying eyes. She and healthcare aid Desi (Kota Eberhardt) will seclude themselves in the Scottish Highlands so Veronica can convalesce from a double mastectomy. She’ll also be able to escape the media frenzy around a proposed remake of the controversial film that made her a star back when she was only 14.

It’s hard to say which of the two traumas haunts her more.

The traveling pair find, thanks to a self-help guru (Rupert Everett) leading his own little squad of guests, that the rustic getaway inhabits a spot used to burn witches in older, more barbaric times. Witty feminism doesn’t overwhelm but enlightens a tale with vengeance on its mind.

Colbert, who co-wrote the script with Kitty Percy, crafts a moody shapeshifter of a film, allowing atmosphere and images to drive the narrative. The result is hypnotic. Clint Mansell’s transfixing score spills into Jamie Ramsay’s dreamy cinematography and suddenly you can’t tell whether you’re in the woods or in Veronica’s headspace or neither or both.

Eberhardt’s thoughtful turn creates a lovely opposite to the brittle Veronica, their growth offering an enduring image of the strength in companionship and sisterhood.

Colbert peppers the film with unexpected humor that serves it well. She seamlessly blends styles and ideas into a singular vision – no minor feat for a first-time director.

On top of the controversy surrounding the Hocus Pocus sequel, it is nice to be reminded, however artfully, of the legacy of witchcraft: the powerful tormenting and in many cases torching the powerless. Colbert shows us how lovely revenge can look when those women have a little power.

She Is the Warrior

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

by Hope Madden

My genuine thanks to first time writer/director Swati Bhise for bringing to my attention the Indian freedom fighter and queen, Rani Lakshmibai. The woman was an absolute badass.

Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise, Swati’s daughter) reigned over the Indian state of Jhansi during the mid 1850s, a time of British rule. In 1857, she took part in a rebellion aimed at freedom from the colonial oppressors.

When I say took part, I mean she wielded swords on horseback, united an otherwise divided smattering of armies and generally kicked all manner of ass.

She was most impressive.

She deserved a better movie.

Bhise’s approach to this wildly untraditional tale is far too traditional, too restrained, and too afraid to dig into any of the characters, including the lead. More cripplingly, the film is basically a chamber piece until the third act.

That could work if what we saw was the backbiting and usurping that may have gone on behind closed doors—British or Indian—as a woman took charge. Or if it was strategy and brainstorming that we observed, or if stirring speeches bore witness to the ruler’s inner conflict and motivational charisma.

Instead we get a blandly sanitized soap opera, the warrior queen discussing hair care with her female soldiers as frequently as military tactics. Throughout, Bhise’s direction feels amateurish, every scene stagnating as it drowns in costumes and unconvincing sets.

Dialog fills in for character development, but we also see a lot of the queen sitting silently and thinking. The Warrior Queen of Jhansi depicts lot of pondering, a lot of costumes, very little action.

“I am no stranger to battle,” Rani Lakshmibai tells whoever might listen, but it’s news to us because we haven’t seen her do anything besides think, talk and change her clothes. Worse still is the single scene of battle practice, where she readies her female forces, not one of whom can convincingly handle a sword.

The British side of things fares little better, although a smug Rupert Everett  as Sir Hugh Rose and Nathaniel Parker as blowhard Sir Robert Hamilton do inject some life into the proceedings. Everett is the only actor in the entire cast asked to find multiple layers in his character. It’s just two layers, really, but they are a welcome change.

It is a magnificent feat, no doubt, that the story of a 1850s Indian warrior queen has made its way to the American big screen (there are two Indian films, one classic and a second released this year). I wish it was a better movie.

Everything Except Temptation

The Happy Prince

by Hope Madden

“Why does one run toward ruin? Why does it hold such fascination?”

Oscar Wilde, by way of writer/star Rupert Everett, wonders these potent lines partway through The Happy Prince, director Everett’s biopic of the infamous decadent/undeniable genius.

Everett’s tale flashes backward and forward but mainly focuses on the period between Wilde’s 1897 release from prison and his death in 1900. A rather bleak time in a very rich and colorful life, but Everett’s execution never forgets the heights, and his performance is haunted with the fall.

Upon his release, Wilde finds support with sometime lover and literary agent Robert Ross (Edwin Thomas) and writer/friend Reginald Turner (Colin Firth – delightful, especially when his character is not the focus of a scene). But Wilde cannot or will not deny his desire for Alfred “Bosie” Douglas (Colin Morgan).

It is a perfect vehicle for a film that lays bare this particular genius and that rumination on running toward ruin. Only a few years earlier, Wilde’s ego required recompense from his lover’s father, who’d libeled him. Wilde’s suit, however, only uncovered his own then-illegal dalliances and instead of recompense he found himself facing hard labor.

And yet, even with emotional support from his friends and financial support from his wife jeopardized by the decision, Wilde joyously takes Bosie back and the two travel to Naples to misbehave.

Everett’s film more than forgives Wilde’s wildness, though it doesn’t go so far as to fully admire it. His lead performance is colored by an understanding of the difference between living lustily when you have everything, and when all that you once had is forever out of reach.

As a writer and director, Everett tries too hard to use Wilde’s short story The Happy Prince to create a running metaphor, perhaps suggesting that Wilde’s end, like the story’s, reaches transcendence. It’s a tough sell, passing off the short’s image of voluntary self-sacrifice as analogous to Wilde’s fall from grace.

Otherwise, though, the first-time filmmaker delivers a vision edged with the melancholy of a brilliant mind never again able to see the world as bountiful and beautiful. It’s as touching as it is resonant, and nothing in The Happy Prince articulates this tragedy as beautifully as Everett’s performance.

It’s a performance simultaneously full of life and of death. You see the enormous loss, but more than that, the deflating ugliness of this world etched on Everett’s face, echoing in his every gesture.

Everett’s instincts behind the camera come as a nice surprise. With more than 70 acting credits to judge by—many of them quite fine, some even awards contenders—the real surprise is that he had this performance in him.