Review: Dorian Gray
Sep 11 2009 The Journal
Length: 1hr 52 mins
Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox
Director: Oliver Parker
Star rating: 3
THE corruptive power of celebrity casts a dark shadow over Victorian London in this take on Oscar Wilde’s gothic horror, adapted by Toby Finlay.
It stylishly evokes the social whirl and squalor of the capital with impressive set and costume designs – more so than Ben Barnes, whose portrayal of the much-abused hero is more wooden than the frame of the infamous portrait.
His lifelessness is thrown into greater relief by Colin Firth’s eye-catching supporting performance as his corrupter.
Firth’s Lord Henry Wotton happily confides in Dorian: “I envy you because you have the only two things worth having: youth and beauty.”
Dorian is set on the path to sin, while smitten painter Basil Hallward – Ben Chaplin – immortalises his good looks on canvas.
Every time Dorian succumbs to temptation, the painting decays, so he hides it to ensure no-one can see how ugly he has become inside.
His affair with Lord Wotton’s daughter sets in motion the events that will destroy what remains of a once pure gentle soul.
The film is Oliver Parker’s second adaptation of Wilde, 10 years after An Ideal Husband, and the change from comedy to horror doesn’t suit the British director well.