Based on the classic novel by Oscar Wilde, "Dorian Gray" tells the story of a strikingly beautiful young man named Dorian (Ben Barnes - "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian") and his terrifying secret.
The novel is appraised as one of the last great Gothic Horror novels, but in the translation to film, it's lost most of its scare value. This is largely down to the fact that they've made the film for the audience of Twilight, which should inherently suggest that something is wrong.
Chief amongst the mistakes that this focus would entail is the casting of Ben Barnes. I previously found him to be the worst part of the second Narnia film, Prince Caspian, which isn't good considering he was in the title role. There's an identical problem here, as it seems he's been cast purely for his looks once again, because the only time he really convinces as Gray is in the early scenes, where he's wide-eyed and naive about the position in the world he's inherited.
Once he begins having wild orgies, taking up substance abuse and murdering people, he slips into that same acting trend as Robert Pattinson does as Edward Cullen. He attempts to purvey age beyond his years simply by speaking slower and occasionally using his big boy voice to admonish people. It's also fairly reminiscent of Hayden Christensen in... well, anything Hayden Christensen has done. Far from being convinced of Gray's weariness and hidden malice, I half expected him to shout that from his point of view, the Jedi were evil.
Where Dorian Gray fell down for me was in the fact that everything hinges on a strong central lead. Barnes is certainly not that, and so it's easy to forget that the rest of the production is fairly competent. It remains largely faithful to Wilde's novel, and looking at St Trinian's director Oliver Parker's CV, this is certainly the most interesting film he's done to date.
The visuals are slightly reminiscent of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, but Parker doesn't allow the film to look hackneyed or unoriginal. Especially deserving of praise is Colin Firth, who does his utmost to steal the show as the cynical Lord Harry, dispensing wit and one-liners aplenty. Unfortunately, it's misjudged as a vehicle for Barnes.
Not to mention the fact that it skews towards a young teenage target audience, meaning that Gray's violent and lewd misdemeanours cannot be entirely represented on screen. At the same time, a fair portion of that target audience wasn't be able to see the film in cinemas on account of its 15 certificate- so it's stuck somewhere in the middle of two audiences.
It's not a bad film by any means, but it's forgettable and in many ways that's worse.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Forever Young. Forever Cursed. Dorian Gray is Beautiful. Charming. Powerful. CURSED Young Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) arrives fresh on the London social scene and is taken under the wing of corrupt, devilish Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth) who introduces him to the seedy pleasures of London life. Desperate to protect the youth and beauty captured in his portrait, Dorian swears he would give anything to stay as he is...even his soul. Slipping deeper and deeper into a world of sin, sex and celebrity, his deeds grow ever more evil in an attempt to hide his secret. But when he eventually finds love, Dorian struggles to hide the secret behind his eternal youth. Is it too late for redemption or can love un-lock Dorian's humanity and save his soul? Actors Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Caroline Goodall, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Emilia Fox, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Fiona Shaw, Maryam d'Abo, Douglas Henshall, Michael Culkin, Johnny Harris, Pip Torrens, David Sterne, Jo Woodcock & Tallulah Sheffield Director Oliver Parker Certificate 15 years and over Year 2009 Screen Widescreen Languages English - Dolby Digital (5.1) Region Region 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.
Ben Barnes takes the title role in this 2009 adaptation of Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel. When Dorian arrives in London he is introduced to a rakish, dissolute lifestyle by the larger-than-life character of Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth). When one of Wotton's artist friends paints Dorian's portrait, Dorian makes an offhand vow to always stay as young and handsome as he is in the picture, even at the cost of his soul. As his behaviour becomes ever more corrupt and hedonistic, Dorian's comely countenance remains unchanged; but the portrait begins to tell a different story...