BEN BARNES COLLIN FIRTH BEN CHAPLIN REBECCA HALL
Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray has been brought to screen in an interestingly dark film. Wilde’s notion of taking pleasure in every aspect of life only to experience the burden of consequence is the fable being told. Representing the corruptive innocent youngster is star Ben Barnes, who like many actors associated with family films clearly took this role to break out of a stereotype. Dorian Gray is a dark gothic like story that is without a protagonist, only sinners making more sinners. Oscar nominee Colin Firth who has worked with prestigious director Oliver Parker many times takes on one of his darkest roles to date.
Returning to his child hood home after the death of his father, young innocent Dorian Gray is the talk of London with his chiseled face and attractive nature. Girls begin to swoon over the new eligible bachelor, but the easily influenced Gray surrounds himself with the wrong kind of people. He has a portrait painted of himself by a more honest friend Basil (Chaplin) who is quite taken with the young lord. His greatest influence however comes from socialite Lord Henry Wotton (Firth), who introduces Gray to the underworld of prostitutes, drugs and alcohol. Gray becomes obsessed with pleasure in general and through some kind of spell never appears to grow old.
Parker known for stuffy English films like The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband seems to keen on adapting a story rife with sex and deviant behavior he focuses so much on the “wrongdoings” that Dorian Gray appears more like a guilty pleasure than a fable. Sure in the end we and Gray come to terms with the effect of his bad behavior. Barnes (Stardust, Easy Virtue) is known for little else than his Prince Caspian character; he doesn’t seem the right choice for this character who appears to lose sight of his soul. Barnes clearly a very timid person seems to struggle with Gray’s actions which affect his performance.
In the beginning the film takes on a natural role, but by the end we are introduced to such a dark and unexplained performance it seems to cross into some type of fantasy picture mid movie. Firth (Bridget Jones Diary, A Single Man) is probably the best element to the film, clearly playing the devil’s right hand man as he hides behind a very awkward mustache. Firth who is multitalented with his variety of roles does exude the right amount of deviant behavior, but even his character becomes flawed and misrepresented by the films very distracting conclusion. The violence and sex included with the film might be enough to keep the audience’s attention, but the lack of reality and original material make everything else cheap.
Final Thought – Destined to be the HBO late night smut movie in disguise.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih