A naïve young man. A lovelorn artist. A corruptible Lord. A deal with the Devil. It all paints a dark picture of a Victorian London and how the rich and infamous party at their peril. Here, the telling of time and its consequence of experience for life's treasures' takes its toll on the body, mind and soul. The haunting and bleak tale of power, greed, vanity and inevitable self-destruction is ever present amongst the deceit, opium dens and sin. Written by
Stylish, good-looking and presented in the best possible light - the movie of Dorian Gray can be described with exactly the same words befitting it's titular character.
Directed by Oliver Parker, this is a filmed adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel "The Picture Of Dorian Gray", a supernatural tale of a handsome young man who ends up being given a great gift indeed, eternal beauty and youth. It's all thanks to a painting that he protects, a painting that takes all of the ravages of excess and time upon itself while the young man portrayed can get up to what he wants without a care in the world. And what Dorian Gray (played by Ben Barnes) eventually wants is . . . . . . . well, anything he can get really. Drink, drugs and sex. His reputation soon precedes him. He even starts to outpace the man who first introduced him to the many pleasures of the flesh (Lord Henry Wotton, a marvellous turn from Colin Firth) and that takes some doing.
Mixing the lavish stylings and the accessories of the upper classes with the grimy, earthy textures of the drunk, the drugged and the debauched, this movie provides a great balance and also lets the viewer vicariously pick up on the sensations that end up impressing Dorian so much before things turn inexorably sour and start to darken.
There's no shying away from the more adult content either as the young man beds his many conquests and does so with no sense of attachment or remorse for those cast aside afterwards until he finds himself unexpectedly affected by his predicament when he fears that his soul may have gone beyond saving.
The cast are all very good although nobody comes near Firth for quality. Barnes starts off believable naive and his transformation is well sold, Rebecca Hall is lovely, as is Rachel Hurd-Wood, Emilia Fox is very good, then there are fine turns from people like Douglas Henshall, Johnny Harris, Ben Chaplin and many others.
The whole thing reeks of quality and uses a great mix of audio and visuals to immerse the viewer in Dorian's world of decadence. I have not seen other adaptations of Wilde's book but must say that this one was about as good as I could have hoped for, having read and enjoyed the source material so much. Great stuff.
See this if you like: The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray (1970), Valmont.
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