I guess it was just a matter of time before we got a Dorian Gray film, I believe there hasn’t been one based on the story since the 40’s. As I started to watch this, I realised I actually had no idea what Dorian Gray was actually about. All I knew was that he some how kept youthful with a painting. The story is much more than that of course, Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) arrives in London after the death of his father, he is an innocent young man. That soon changes after he meets artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) and Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth). Basil paints a perfect portrait of Dorian, which Dorian almost becomes obssessed with, and Lord Henry teaches Dorian a life of hedonism so to speak. As time goes on Dorian becomes increasingly violent and lives a life of perversion. All the while, he strikes a deal with the devil to remain youthful whilst the perfect portrait holds all of his age and ugliness.
Based on the book by Oscar Wilde (Titled The Picture Of Dorian Gray), there are many themes present in Dorian Gray, such as power, greed, deceit, vanity, self destruction and love just to name a few. It is handled in such a way that I think it will either hold your attention or it wont. For me it did hold my attention, and I felt the things they were trying to say and morale of the story was evident. The metaphor with the picture actually works quite well and it was handled in a really good way in this film. Performance wise everyone is quite good, Ben Barnes looked and played the part really well. Colin Firth was rather unexpected as Lord Henry, he certainly seemed like he had a good time playing the role, something a bit different for him. Ben Chaplin was rather good as well, Basil has a bit of an infatuation with Dorian’s beauty and he really conveyed it well while being subtle about it. Rachel Hurd-Wood and Rebecca Hall were both lovely as the love interests, you could see their appeal to Dorian.
The look of the film felt perfect, the cinematography was great, and the use and lack of colour with certain scenes worked pretty well. The direction was fine, the pacing was a little bit off at times, especially towards the end. There were moments were it almost felt it didn’t know which direction it wanted to head in. Is this a horror? Sort of. Is this a drama? Sort of. Thriller? Sort of. It is a mixture of genre’s but it can’t quite decide which one it wants to be and I think this brought the film down for me. While it did hold my interest, a few things just felt a little bit off. It could have been better, but I think in the end I was satisfied, and I enjoyed it for what it was. It certainly is a strange story, and I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, so what happened was surprising for me. I didn’t actually read any synopsis or watch a trailer for this, I basically went in blind. I definitely want to see more from Ben Barnes, he is quite a charming and talented actor and very nice on the eyes.