VideoVista logo
MONTHLY WEB-ZINE OF  
DVD & BLU-RAY REVIEWS
 
action | adventure | art | cartoon | comedy | cult | disaster | docu | drama | fantasy | horror | kung fu | monster | musical | parody | romance | satire | sequel | SF | sport | spy | surreal | 3D | thriller | TV | war | western
VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists, plus regular prize draws.

HOME PAGE
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
COMPETITIONS
FORTHCOMING REVIEWS
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
READERS' COMMENTS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SITE MAP
LINKS


SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS

In Association with Amazon.com


visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies

January 2010

Dorian Gray

cast: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Rachel Hurd Wood, and Fiona Hall

director: Oliver Parker

107 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
[released 18 January]

RATING: 6/10
review by James A. Stewart

Dorian Gray
SPOILER ALERT!
There is an undeniable bias toward books when it comes to comparing the celluloid adaptations of novels against the original written form. Some books have had multiple interpretations, and especially the Victorian novel. This year alone we have the Boxing Day release of Sherlock Holmes to compliment Jim Carrey's A Christmas Carol. These things are in vogue and the latest offering is the Oliver Parker directed Dorian Gray which is loosely based upon the quite brilliant novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Wilde was an eccentric fellow and the mood created in the gothic horror of his original novel fails to be transported to the big screen by Parker, which comes as a bit of a surprise and a big slice of disappointment, given how well the director handled previous Wilde interpretations (The Importance Of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband). I use the term 'loosely translated' deliberately as there are so many differences between the film and the book that plagiarism would have been a hard case to uphold if the story had been used without permission.

The plot is just about familiar with young Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) obsessed with preserving his youthful looks which he sees as major currency in affording him the ability to live his hedonistic life for evermore. He is ably encouraged by Lord Henry Wotton who pushes and prods Gray toward his debauched existence. Colin Firth (Love Actually, Bridget Jones' Diary) plays Wotton and does just about enough to convince that he is not simply a poor man's Hugh Grant. The rest of the cast is aesthetically pleasing, yet, much like saccharine, a touch bittersweet.

It feels that Parker became obsessed with showing Gray's illicit lifestyle and ended up missing out on really delivering a good dark thriller. There are copious amounts of sex scenes which only reinforce what the viewer already knows: Gray is a dirty git. Aye, we know that! - But what about his turmoil and the devilish means to maintain his youth? Some of the scenes involving the picture's ageing smack of really lazy stereotyping.

There is no denying the film is slick and well shot. The CGI is maybe slightly over-used and the dark scenes a bit too well-lit, if you get my drift. There is merely a hint of what could have been here as Parker jumps from scene to scene in a fast moving, yet unsatisfying film. Worst of all is the ending. It reminded me of how Hollywood had taken liberties with the conclusion of I Am Legend. In the fantastic novel by Richard Matheson, the realisation that the vampire hunter was in fact a monster in the eyes of the vampires is legend itself. Wilde ended his book with a rather macabre twist. And like Matheson's masterpiece, there is no happy ending, only a realisation that the reality espoused a fake one. Of course, we can't have non-redemptive endings in the movies, apparently.



Premonitions in paperback - click to order

VideoVista copyright © 2001 - is published by PIGASUS Press