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Dorian Gray
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Reviews & Ratings for
Dorian Gray More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

After several tries, I watched tonight. And liked it!

8/10
Author: stef-decloe from Brussels, Belgium
5 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed this movie a lot. That is, once I finally decided to watch it. I had tried so many times but it just wouldn't work, there was something bothering me. I guess tonight was the right moment to watch this Dorian Gray. And I am so pleased I did.

I had read the novel, 25 years ago when I studied to be an English teacher (I never became one...) and as it seems, some changes have been made. It is often the case when a movie derives from a book, so I don't make a fuss anymore: this was a nice movie after all.

I was impressed by Ben Barnes. I have known him from the Narnia's, and I liked him a lot in "Easy Virtue". "Killing Bono" was "too much" for me, I couldn't watch it till the end. But here, he was at his best.

Someone wrote that - without clothes - he looked like a 12 year old... Well... I found him to be attractive, with or without clothes (you really don't see much "without"...), so I guess I will have to talk about this with my psychiatrist...

Colin Firth was, as always, very good. I think he can manage very well being "the bad guy", or other dramatic roles, such as in "A Single Man" and "The King's Speech".

Rebecca Hall was very good too, for the few minutes we had the pleasure of seeing her... I didn't know her but will be watching what she does in the future...

As for all British movies, I was also impressed by the decors and the overall historical approach (I mean how London was at that time, and the Bourgeois mentality, etc. etc.) The movie is sometimes slow, sometimes too fast. For this, and other minor details, my vote is 8/10.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Shortcomings here and there

7/10
Author: Raymond from Finland
14 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm a fan of Gothic horror and was a looking forward to this. Not exactly a 100 % hit, but I did enjoy it. I don't know how the original story goes, so my interest was always on the screen not having to figure out what is the same and what is different.

Having said that, some prior knowledge may have had been a good thing, as there were quite a few things that were left a bit fuzzy, like the whole painting vs. selling ones soul to devil scenario. Maybe I wasn't as sharp as I could've been while watching. There are flashbacks of abuse in Dorians childhood and some hints of a pact with devil, but I couldn't figure out how it all came together.

The Victorian look of London is gorgeous and that's one reason I crave for these movies. To detach you from now and throw you back to times when everything was different. Rise of the industrial revolution, gas lights, artists drinking absinthe, it's all there and I really did get drawn in. There are a few obvious 3D shots of old London and some fx that could've been better, but most sets look pretty darn good as does the cinematography and lighting in general. Soundtrack is pretty interesting too.

I can't decide whether Ben Barnes was good or bad in this one. When I watched him in Narnia 2, I felt he was completely miscast. His acting is wooden and his stare is even a bit creepy. To me it feels that his characters are not sincere at all. This may actually work for it's benefit here, but in the beginning when you're supposed to think he's all naive and kind, I wasn't convinced. He gets better as the story lives, but he's still a bit Keanu Reeves of his generation. Wooden. Colin Firth is good, but Ben Chaplins character is a bit underdeveloped. As are the rest of the cast.

I recommend this if you are into Gothic atmosphere, not for much more. Luckily the atmosphere here is well done, so it makes up a lot of the shortcomings.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Altogether More Sinister.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
8 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ben Barnes is Dorian Gray, a beautiful, innocent, wealthy young man in Victorian England. Ben Chaplin is Basil Hallward, a friend, who paints his portrait and captures his inner goodness. Another friend is Colin Firth, as Lord Wotton, the cynical guy who keeps coming up with these Wildeian apothegms. In an earlier film he was played perfectly by George Sanders as the flippant, catty gay man he was. But Colin Firth is no simple cad. He's an agelast. His smile is that of a reptile.

And although Hallward the artist warns Gray that rotten Wotton often says things he doesn't mean -- such as equating pleasure with happiness, and observing that even what seems like a tragedy is an experience one should undergo -- Gray takes his advice seriously.

Gray pursues his pleasure regardless of its cost to others. He proposes to the pretty naif, Sybil Vane, impregnates her, then brushes her off. She does a nosedive into the river. Gray shakes this off and really gets on the hedonic treadmill.

In the novel, this is the dullest part of the story. Wilde has Dorian Gray collecting overly ornate art, mooning over moonstones, caressing fabrics, and other michigas. Well, after all, this IS Victorian England, and Wilde couldn't very well write about the stuff we see here on the screen. Gray smokes dope, smooches with women in low places, draws blood (and maybe drinks it), seduces Hallward, and engages in other naughty bits of business.

After acquiring a devilish reputation, he travels abroad for years, picking his nose and smoking in public and Lord only knows what lesser sins he's committing. Yet, when he returns he glows with youth just as he always has. Meanwhile that portrait of Gray's early self, secure in the attic, has turned into a pustulating horror.

I doubt that this kind of story could have been so successful after Sigmund Freud and the discovery of the unconscious. Neither could "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." These are literary adumbrations of all those buried and unacknowledged libidinous impulses. That's what the portrait represents, of course. And of course we still lie to ourselves and each other -- beginning with "How are you today?" -- but not so dramatically.

It's impossible not to grin when George Sanders comes up with a line like, "The only way to conquer temptation is to yield to it," but this is a far darker version of the tale, taken quite seriously. You won't laugh when Gray dreams he is breaking the neck of Wotton's now fully grown and quite attractive daughter. When Wotton finds out they've been seeing one another, he doesn't laugh either.

It's a very different take on the story from what most people are used to, but it's very well done. By the way, that word, "agelast" is pronounced "AH-juh-list" and means "one who doesn't laugh." It's very rare. I had a heck of a time finding it, and I hope everyone appreciates that effortful enterprise. If they don't, well -- I think I'll just brood for a while and then have to get over it.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

No storyline, just sequential scenes

4/10
Author: Foppe from Groningen, Netherlands
23 January 2011

This movie has no storyline, and is little more than a sequence of scenes strung together. I have not read the book, yet it seems that this was a prerequisite for watching the movie. It's absolutely astonishing how they thought this was a coherent rendition of the book. Firth recites his lines in a tone of voice that suggests he's a radio talk-show host, and nearly all of his lines 'feel' odd because you're not drawn into the story at all. While I couldn't care less whether the protagonist is classically pretty or not, his acting (as the acting of his first female love interest) is wooden at best, though this may be in part because of the fact that there is almost no context to the scenes, no doubt making it hard for him to get into his role. Regardless, the arbitrariness with which scenes followed each other, and the way his emotions and cognitions changed without us being given even an inkling why this is the case through the telling of the story, makes this movie a joke.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Dull and ill-judged

3/10
Author: galensaysyes
13 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Picture of Dorian Gray can probably never be dramatized satisfactorily. The BBC once did it faithfully, but without the narrative passages the story seemed even more incomplete than it had on the page. The novel reads like a partial reconstruction of a damaged original; Wilde tells the story with a curious reticence, so that many pivotal scenes go unwritten and the deterioration of Dorian's character is shown in suggestive vignettes rather than in its entirety. Part of this indirection was no doubt deliberate, to leave the supreme horror for the climax; and in that regard the author succeeds. However, he also introduces confusions: he states in his preface that there are no immoral books but proceeds to make a book the instrument of Dorian's corruption; and not only the painter Basil but Wilde himself seems to treat youth, beauty, and innocence as identical. Yet despite these and other weaknesses the novel evokes genuine distress--alarm mingled with sadness--in the scenes it does depict, such as Lord Henry's casually malicious temptation of Dorian and Dorian's equally casual and malicious casting aside of Sybil Vane. Some at least of this distress has come through in every film telling of the tale.

...until this one. When I first read the novel I found it vague in some respects, but when I turned back to it after seeing the film it seemed crystal clear. The motives for Dorian's descent into decadence were insufficiently described, perhaps insufficiently understood, by Wilde, but in the film, as portrayed by a particularly dull and lifeless Dorian, they don't exist at all, and despite the plethora of orgiastic detail one can't even tell what's supposed to be going on with him. His evil angel Lord Henry is all wrong: not Wilde's jaded amoralist but a stock Victorian villain, until he is made to have a change of conscience after Dorian takes up with his daughter (daughter?). This Lord Henry belongs in Dickens or Wilkie Collins rather than in Wilde. And then the film has Sybil Vane's brother meeting the young Dorian in person, making nonsense of their later encounter. Finally, in an especially poor stroke of judgment, the painted Dorian turns three-dimensional, pops out of the canvas, and tries to wring Dorian's neck. The filmmakers seem not to have understood that the ominous power of the painting lies in its painting-ness, its inanimate quality; bringing it to life renders it innocuous, as if a haunted house were to get up on its legs and dance. In all, this production tends to take on the air of a cartoon (and parts of it, like the computer-drawn buildings, are almost cartoons). It is certainly ambitious; but as a well-known wit once remarked, ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not bad for what it is.

7/10
Author: JoeB131 from United States
7 August 2010

Atmospheric, kind of creepy, not overdone.

Americans never could have handled this kind of story with grace.

The plot line is classic- Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal youth, and the ravages of age are visited upon a painting done of him by his friend. He engages in a series of debaucheries, inflicting pain on those around him.

The film is quite good in recreating a past time, and the styles look authentic enough in a film that probably didn't have a huge budget.

The acting is quite good, although the scenes of debauchery are kind of tame, really. (Seriously, Hammer was doing better stuff 30 years ago.)

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Dorian Gray

10/10
Author: telmarine from Isle of Man
25 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I must say that this film is a masterpiece.At first,before I saw it , I was kind of doubtful. I thought" What's the big deal here? A man sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Not much of a plot". But I misjudged it. It is really a wonderful film. The acting were marvellous and Ben Barnes and Colin Firth were at there best. The film really succeeded in bringing out the artificiality of the Victorian society. Everyone used to act as if they were easily scandalised perfect, but in fact it was rotten to the core. Anyone who has a penchant for Victorian Gothic tales, should watch this film.IT is worth all the one hour and a half.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Oscar Wilde will be turning in his grave

4/10
Author: Samiam3 from Canada
1 September 2010

I don't read much, But the Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favourites, which is why I find this movie an insult.

Oliver Parker has taken Oscar Wilde's master piece and rewritten it to make a b-movie, His product is overwrought, superficial and utterly devoid of credibility and intelligence. Furthermore, If I didn't know better I would swear that this picture was edited with shears. It is choppy beyond believe, and it feels like so much is missing. This movie comes apart fast. Around the end, there are a couple good bits, but by that point Dorian Gray is way beyond saving

This movie's portrayal of Dorian Gray reeks of stupidity. True, the character as seen by Wilde is not supposed to be a nice guy, but Gray in this movie is way out of place for Victorian England. Considering the fact that during the middle section, he attempts to make love to anything that moves, you'd think Parker was filming the behind the scenes life of the actors or something.

I'm very disappointed in this movie. If you have any respect for Oscar Wilde, you should not even look at this.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Great story... Frankly didn't work well on film...

4/10
Author: dudesweethej from Denmark
22 August 2010

This is Oscar Wylde's classic story about Dorian Gray, who sells his soul in exchange of eternal beauty. A great story, greatly written and with good terms of interpretation, with its roots in themes such as narcissism. Somewhy it just doesn't work. There might be different reasons for that. So let's sum up. First and for all, there seems to be no drive... The film just doesn't catch very much, and the story quickly stop evolving. Secondly, the direction is somewhat poor. Too many clichés. Perhaps the main problem simply lies in the fact that this story wasn't ever meant to be filmed. It's a very metaphorical story, and it's supposed to be interpreted, and the director of this film does little to nothing to show this, and therefore loses the... direction... of the story. Not made better by the fact that about half an hour of the film could've been thrown out... In the last 30 minutes we're just waiting to get to see the portrait anyway... Overall, this film is just objectively poor... 4 stars feels like stretching it, but it wasn't like one of the worst movies i've ever seen... Even with the poor direction, and somewhat poor acting performance by the main character (outweighted by Firth's great performance though), i guess i'll say "nice try, just wasn't meant to happen"...

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Dorian Gray-the man-the myth

6/10
Author: erogllij from UK
9 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie Dorian Gray is loosely based on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, or should I say very loosely. In fact, if you blink, you would miss the only segment in the movie that is any part the same as the book. What should be said is that this is a remake of the 1945 movie staring Angela Lansbury and Hurd Hatfield. If you are a fan of Oscar Wilde's then like me you will be disappointed. It seems to explore Dorian's dark side without regards to the true storyline. If you have never read the book then you will probably enjoy this very dark Gothic story. Ben Barnes's portrayal was excellent. He managed to capture Dorian's dark personalty very well. He's a talented young actor who I'm sure we will see more of.

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