Dorian Gray

"OK"

Dorian Gray Review


Oscar Wilde's classic novel is turned into a schlock horror movie, totally engulfed by gloomy atmosphere and over-the-top filmmaking. It's watchably cheesy, but completely lacks Wilde's incisive wit or observation.

Dorian (Barnes) is an orphan who inherits a sprawling mansion when his tyrant grandfather dies. Young and eligible, he's quickly taken under the wing of Lord Henry (Firth), who introduces him to the licentious ways of late 19th century London. But the sex and drugs sabotage his relationship with an innocent young actress (Hurd-Wood), and Dorian pledges his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Now instead of aging, a portrait painted by his friend Basil (Chaplin) shows the scars of his depraved life.

This story is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1890; the obsession with youth can be seen in nipped/tucked faces everywhere. But this film only barely touches that theme, instead focussing on the supernatural freak-out of this menacing picture locked away in Dorian's attic, plus some airbrushed gothic porn and lots of grisly bloodletting. In many ways, it feels far more like a vampire movie than Wilde's dark social satire.

It's odd that Parker takes such a gothic approach for his third Wilde adaptation (after An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest). It allows him to create lots of atmospheric stylishness, with gliding camerawork and shadowy sets, plus characters that feel like Dickensian icons. And this heightened reality lets the actors add lots of dark theatricality.

Firth is especially good at this; his steely, sardonic performance is very nasty, and utterly riveting. Opposite him, everyone else seems a bit bland, including Barnes, who's more of a pretty boy than a tortured soul. Much of his inner torment is portrayed only through lurid nightmares and fake, excessively set-dressed hedonism. And he has very little chemistry with either Hurd-Wood or Hall, who are both very good.

But all of this undermines Dorian's character as a wanton hedonist. Basically, decadence has never looked less enjoyable on screen. The violence is twisted and grim, with tricks stolen from J-horror and a bizarrely homophobic undertone (the only gay scene is essentially a power-play rape). And as it approaches its B-movie conflagration finale, it feels even more soulless than Dorian himself.



Dorian Gray

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th September 2009

Box Office Worldwide: $4.7M

Distributed by: Alliance Films

Production compaines: Ealing Studios, Fragile Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 21

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dorian Gray, as Lord Henry Wotton, as Emily Wotton, as Lady Victoria Wotton, as Basil Hallward, as Agatha, as Lady Radly, as Gladys, as Alan Campbell, as Sibyl Vane, as Lucius

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.