Hey guys, I decided to write a review on the 2009 version of Dorian Gray that I recently watched with one of my Latin buddies. It a few years old and I desperately wanted to see it in theatres but just never ended up finding a friend to go with and then schoolwork got in the way and you know how it is in high school, things just go in one ear and out the other, so the Dorian Gray movie slowly faded into one of the “should have gones” in my cinema history.
“Some things are precious because they don’t last.” – Basil
If you’re familiar with the story or have read Oscar Wilde’s original novel first published in 1890, you’ll know that the ending of the movie is slightly altered, probably for dramatic purposes. However, the sentiments of the story and its wide ranging themes themes are all prominently presented through rich and symbolic cinematography. Basically, the story follows a young man named Dorian Gray who’s returned to his late grandfather’s estate to inherit what’s left of it. He makes friends with a man named Henry Wotton who introduces him into the social gatherings of the upper class and whom encourages Dorian to fully embrace his emotions, temptations and live a life of pleasure. When the artist Basil Hallward paints a portrait of Dorian, the young aristocrat is astonished at the youth and beauty in the portrait. Wotton remarks that the man in the portrait will last while the man outside the picture will wither and die someday. Dorian offers that he might “nail my soul to the devil’s altar” in an exchange for eternal youth. Slowly but surely, Gray begins to life a life of mere pleasure and with his soul trapped in the painting, he revives from each and every indulgent ordeal untouched and unscathed while the Dorian in the picture begins to deteriorate and rot. Years later, Dorian has come to realize that everything comes at a sacrifice and he’ll need to pay his dues one day…
Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray
Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton
Rebecca Hall as Emily Wotton
Ben Chaplin as Basil Hallward
Rachel Hurd-Wood as Sibyl Vane
Johnny Harris as James “Jim” Vane
It’s really hard to place other characters as part of the main cast aside from Barnes and Firth who appear from beginning to end. The art direction is absolutely gorgeous and reflects the gothic Victorian atmosphere of Wilde’s original novel. I loved seeing the story retold as a whole, but I could do without a lot of the portrayals of the hedonist sexual activities that Dorian engages in as he descends deeper and deeper into, well, hell.
I realized I kept fangirling over Ben Barnes as a celebrity, rather than Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray. He does make an extraordinary dashing Victorian Englishman however I found it really hard to detach his image from his role as Prince Caspian. I really wanted to see more evocative acting especially during Dorian’s most morally conflicting moments. As a fan of Ben Barnes, he wasn’t hard to look at throughout the film since he doesn’t age nor does he injure or scar from any of his wild nights but I would have liked to see more internal moral struggle versus all the kinky stuff he does in search for pleasure.
Colin Firth was particularly interesting in his role as Henry Wotton. He really made me hate him when he was pressuring the young and innocent Dorian into opium dens and lavish parties. At the same time, Wotton’s transition from social party animal to hedonist poser living vicariously through Dorian to level-headed doting father in his later years really impressed me. Firth’s versatile acting makes his character one of the most intriguing figures of the movie.
I hope you guys enjoyed this review, just on a surface level of enjoyment, it was a nice interlude from my usual anime series and the Chinese dramas that I’m use to. I normally don’t watch movies a lot because I like getting to know characters through an extended period of episodes and events rather than have their entire life told to me in the span of about two hours. As a result, I’m not usually up to date with the whole movie scene and what’s trending in cinemas and box offices.
What are you pondering today?