- Director:Oliver Parker
- Cast:Ben Barnes, Colin Firth
- Release Date:November 12, 2009
- Running time:112 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
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Colin Firth is perfect as the devil’s advocate, as this adaptation of 19th century gothic taps into the modern zeitgeist.
"You have only two things worth having - youth and beauty." Oscar Wilde's literary devil child gets dusted off in a chilling remake by the mercurial Oliver Parker (The Importance Of Being Earnest and, er, St. Trinians). Parker sensibly taps the often underrated Colin Firth as Gray's mentor, and signs up boyish Ben Barnes (The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Easy Virtue) in the lead role.
Impressionable Dorian Gray arrives for his first season in London, whereupon the fresh faced youth is seized upon by cynical Lord Wotton (Firth). Looking to corrupt the lad's impossible naivete, he re-educates Gray about the virtue of virtue. In doing so, the youngster unwittingly barters his soul in a pact with the devil: a portrait of him will age while Gray does not, setting him free to indulge his every whim. And indulge he does. But as Gray works harder and harder to protect his great secret from those who he now cares about, tragedy advances with the inevitably of age.
Wilde's self-loathing leaps to the fore in Dorian Gray, perfectly encapsulated by Firth's extraordinarily nuanced performance. As Gray lives an unbridled life that he dare not live himself, Wotton delivers an endless string of perfectly timed epigrams that point to the longing and the hatred. Firth is the perfect foil for Barnes' puppy-ish Gray, even as the youngster becomes more like Wotton than the lusty Lord himself. Theirs is a decisive blend that helps ease viewers past some of Parker's less polished and over-heated moments, helping to create a compelling picture of Dorian Gray, a winning blend of 19th century gothic filtered through 21st century zeitgeist.