Michael Sheen has virtually made a career out of starring in biopics. Not only has he taken the role of Tony Blair three times (thus far), he has also portrayed David Frost, H.G Wells and football manager Brian Clough. In Fantabulosa! he adds Carry On star Kenneth Williams to his resume. Yet instead of getting an amusing biopic indicative of the entertainer’s on screen performances, we get an awkwardness that reflects his constant discomfort.
Based on Williams’ diaries, the film contrasts his flagrantly gay public persona with the private turmoil of a man struggling with his homosexuality. Complicating matters are a chronic case of haemorrhoids, a painful spastic colon and an obsession with cleanliness. So while Williams is more than happy to swap double entendres with workmen, the thought of kissing a man with dirty fingernails is abhorrent. A momentary sphere of comfort is provided by playwright Joe Orton until he is murdered by his male partner. Perhaps it's not surprising that Williams reverts to celibacy and regular acts of masturbation.
In a brilliant performance, Sheen perfectly captures Williams’ more familiar traits as well as the heartbreak of his inner torment. Yet it is virtually smothered by a dour film which uses excerpts of the star’s diaries as the basis for its voice-over narration. Though this does provide insight into Williams’ innermost thoughts, their maudlin nature makes the film’s short running time seem much longer. Appropriately, it is Williams’ last diary entry that best sums up this film - "what's the bloody point?"
as Kenneth Williams
as Sid James
as Joan Sims
as Charles Hawtrey
According to the diaries on which this film is based, it was Kenneth Williams' sister who returned a disorientated Lou Williams to Kenneth's apartment, not Joan Sims.
Kenneth Williams did not visit his dying father in hospital.
Biopic provides not so much a recreation as a representation of Carry On Sergeant (00:07)