Forever Young. Forever Cursed.
Running Time: 112 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
Handsome young country boy Dorian Gray (Barnes) makes a flippant remark along of the lines of Wouldnt it be lovely if I was young forever? and lo-and-behold, from that moment on, he can never grow old. Instead, a portrait of him painted by his infatuated friend, Basil (Chaplin), inherits his signs of aging and his soul. Dorian strikes up a close friendship with the cynical, unscrupulous Lord Henry Wotton (Firth) and they sink into debauched cocktail of kinky sex, drink and drugs. As Dorian commits each dirty deed, the painting mirrors his rotting soul and he then tires of the constant hedonism.
The film is based on the controversial novel by Oscar Wilde that publicised homosexuality and promiscuity to a shocked Victorian audience. The film, on the whole, is quite faithful to the book and presents a quite workmanlike, un-Hollywoodised style. The main tick in the box is that the book revolves around drug-fuelled orgies and the film adaptation certainly follows suit. Now, Im fan of the odd sex romp in a film but how many do you need before it has comprensively illustrated the point that he likes sex? Other little chagrins being a few character additions, like Emily (Hall) and an under explored Grandson-Grandad abuse sideline. Also, probably due to budget constraints, Dorians twenty or so years of travels – where his soul darkens immeasurably are skirted over in the form of a few letters to Henry, so instead the whole film takes place in a strangely minimalist CGI environment.
In terms of acting, Colin Firth by some act of God not being in a rom-com is excellent as the dastardly Henry and Ben Barnes is indeed very handsome, with his button chin and floppy hair (its no use, I have to admit it). He can act a little too. Unfortunately, Rachel Hurd-Wood is cringingly wooden in portraying Sybil – Dorians swiftly despatched love interest.
It's Got: Some good performances, an interesting premise
It Needs: Deeper thrills and chills, More soul
Dorian Gray has it’s redeeming features but it all seems a bit underwhelming more of a BBC2 period drama deemed too hot for TV.