This film review was written for a unit at uni…
Dorian Gray would probably not be the first film you would necessarily pick for a girly night out at the cinema. After seeing the film trailer on the TV last week I dare say I was rather dubious of going to see the film. I really am not very good when it comes to blood and gore, but my friends reassured me with the fact that it was not a horror and that the lead was played by a fit actor. I have also always been rather interested in period dramas…is it cool to admit to that yet?
The film is based on the famous book by Oscar Wilde and tells the story of a beautifully perfect young man named Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes). Fresh faced and innocent upon arriving in London after his Grandfather’s death Gray meets Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth) who slowly corrupts the young Gray into a hedonistic lifestyle with disastrous consequences. Meanwhile the artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) paints a portrait of Gray who unknowingly barters his soul to his portrait at its unveiling, vowing to stay young and beautiful forever (with every slice of corruption monstrously deforming his trapped soul in the portrait).
The acting is probably the strongest part of the film with a remarkable performance by Ben Barnes and a cast also including Rebecca Hall, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Emilia Fox. As well as exploring themes such as the true cost of wanting to stay young forever (which runs true today in our cosmetic ridden and photoshopped society) the film does deserve a watch. Thats if you can stomach the triumphant effects of a gothic horror…I would lie if I said I enjoyed the maggot ridden portrait or gory murders, or that I failed to wince or cover my eyes in certain places. The film also mixes together a rather strange combination of genres from horror and drama to romance, and not forgetting the explicit sex scenes touching on some extraordinary sexual fantasies, as well as a hint of homosexuality. These do seem a little graphic and weird at first, but at the same time it does work, and does not fall out-of-place within the film. Furthermore my definition of a good film considers whether I am left thinking about the film after I have left the cinema…and this has definitely been the case with Dorian Gray.
The character does do horrific things but you are still left feeling sorry for him, I still blame Wotton as the key manipulator. Sitting in my seat screaming ‘don’t do it’, I was hoping Gray would finally become a better man again and some how the painting would simply fix itself. If only Wotton was out-of-the-way or Gray had defied temptation and settled down with Sybil Vane…but then there would be no story.