Dorian Gray Review

dorian gray film review I know this movie has been out for a while but I only found out about it recently (it’s not out in Germany yet). I didn’t want to wait so here’s my take.

The Corruption of Dorian Gray (Brief Synopsis)

An impressionable young Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) arrives in London where is he introduced to high society by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth). Mutual friend and artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) paints a picture of Dorian in the prime of his life, who after hearing Wotton’s musings wishes that the painting take on the signs of age and vice, rather than himself. The movie is based on The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

I’ll admit it, I found that the promotional material for this film looks too artificial – using the same kind of visual effects found in Harry Potter posters – and I was worried this film would attempt the impossible and try to bring R-rated material to a PG audience. Boy was I wrong. I imagine that if some kids see this they’ll be asking their parents some difficult questions, above and beyond the usual about where babies come from (and that can be tricky too). The material is certainly heavy, the book is a good read: Lord Wotton’s wit alone is reason enough to read the novel or watch the movie, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Lord Wotton also believes that the only two things worth having are youth and beauty. His charm and intellect win over Dorian, who realizes that his newly minted portrait will remain pristine, while he slowly withers and grays. He trades in his soul so that it will work the other way around. Sin and scar have no affect on him, and he embarks on a twisted pleasure pilgrimage. In the book, Dorian’s exploits and debaucheries are vague and implied, here they’re shown on screen, in montage – but it’s graphic, and even curious at times.
Mothers Lock Up Your Daughters, and Yourselves (Spoiler Alert!)

For instace, Dorian takes a Wotton wager (I should throw that up on Urban Dictionary) and deflowers an aristocrat’s daughter at her coming out party. The mother distraught due to her daughter’s long absence confronts Dorian, who manages to seduce her as well. They knock boots while the daughter is stashed under the bed. The perversions get more sadistic, and less creative. Things come to a head, so to speak, when Basil inquires about the whereabouts of the painting. Here to story begins to deviate from the that of the novel quite a bit, not for the sake of expendiency or anything; there is a more prominent role for Lord Wotton towards the end, for instance. It’s not bad, just different. Due to this film’s shock and scare tactics I decided to tag it as horror as well, which isn’t a bad thing either, just the director’s take. However the film is a little too bright and too polished for its dark content, the ghoulish overtones contrast with the well lit drawing rooms and dinner halls. Sometimes the editing is choppy and sometimes the extras look more like mechanized dummies in cheesy amusement rides at the fair. However, the director does do a terrific job of recreating Victorian England. Ben Barnes is convincing, Colin Firth does a good job in the role of Lord Wotton, though his interpretation is a bit too serious at times – I always pictured Henry as being more jolly, ambivalent. Nevertheless I think fans of the book will still be able to enjoy this film, small plot differences and conflicted characters make for an interesting interpretation and an enjoyable movie.

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