"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DVD Review: Dorian Gray

Based on the only published novel from Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray (2009) doesn't quite live up to the expectations I had.

The premise is thus, a young man (Ben Barnes) comes to London newly inheriting his grandfather's fortune.  He meets up with several people about town notably Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) and Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth).  Basil paints his portrait, an uncanny lookalike, which becomes the talk of the town.  And as Lord Henry makes a casual remark that the painting will remain as beautiful as the day it was painted, Dorian himself will lose his beauty.  Dorian then decides that he'd rather barter his soul to the devil than lose his youthful beauty.  Lord Henry is an terrible influence on Dorian and introduces him to all the depraved pleasures of life so much so that Dorian forgets about his true love, Sybil Vane (Rachel Hurd-Wood), a young actress.

And so it begins.  The boredom.  Ben Barnes, unfortunately, is a dull lead.  He doesn't quite carry off the role of a debonair rogue.  I almost wanted Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl to somehow materialize out of the nearest street corner and show Dorian how it's done.  Hey, Ed Westwick, who plays Chuck, could even use his own natural accent.  Rebecca Hall (she shows up at the end) as Emily Wotton is wasted in a miniscule role.  The film's only solid performance comes from Colin Firth who gets the best lines like this little gem, "There's no shame in pleasure.  Man just wants to be happy.  But society wants him to be good.  And when he's good, he's rarely happy.  But when he's happy, he's always good".

So Dorian doesn't age after a lot of boring things he does and other boring things happen.  But the painting does.  It ages, groans and looks menacing in a corner.  I, who scares really easily, found myself asking is that it? Is there more to this?  The painting's scariest look is The Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt.  And that pretty much sums it up.

P.S. - It was nice to see Rachel Hurd-Wood after a long time, she was little Wendy from the live-action version of Peter Pan (2003).  I love the music and the adaptation from the book.

Director: Oliver Parker, Screenplay: Toby Finlay, Cinematography: Roger Pratt, Editing: Guy Bensley.

Rating:   (1 DVD)

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