Dorian Gray

Would you like to sell your soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty? The latest adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, tells how innocence could be manipulated into monstrosity and how beauty and youth are worshipped at the expense of moral values.

Set during the Victorian era London, Dorian Gray was initially an innocent, handsome young man. Soon after his arrival in London, he got introduced to Lord Henry Wotton by Basil Hallward. Basil, who admired the youthful beauty of Dorian, made a painting of him which proved to be his best artwork ever. Upon completion of the painting, Dorian was so fascinated by it that he vowed to give anything to maintain his youthful look. Slowly but surely, Dorian got manipulated by Henry who preaches hedonism although he don’t seem to be very much a hedonist himself.

Later, Dorian met and fell in love with Sibyl Vane, a young actress. After a fight with Dorian, Sybil committed suicide by drowning herself and this begins the transformation of Dorian Gray. Sybil’s death led Dorian to increasingly involved in a hedonist lifestyle. For each immoral thing that he committed, the picture of Dorian aged instead of Dorian himself. The peak of it was when Dorian killed Basil after an argument. Afterwards, Dorian left England to travel around the world for years. By the time he returned to London, everyone he knew aged, while he remained youthful. It was by that time that Sybil’s brother, James, planned to avenge his sister’s death.

The cast was great. Ben Barnes perfectly played the innocent, yet charming Dorian Gray. Even after his transformation into an immoral individual, Dorian still looked innocent instead of menacing. The supporting cast such as Ben Chaplin and Colin Firth also performed well as Basil Hallward and Henry Wotton, respectively. The most significant performance from the actresses came from Rebecca Hall, mostly because other actresses did not get enough screen time to be considered significant.

The set is great, capable of putting in the gothic look on London. Dark, menacing alleys out in the streets, but shiny inside the mansions showed the wide gap of the society during that era. There were variations from the novel, but essentially they were not too significant to alter the original story. As a whole, I believe this is a great adaptation of the novel. As an additional note, even at the present day, people still looking for ways to preserve the youthful beauty even if that means they must pay a price for it. As for the society, society never changes. It is always the society to blame for corrupting innocence and turning it into monstrosity.

Final Rating: 8.0

Directed by Oliver Parker
Written by Toby Finlay
Based on the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin, Rebecca Hall, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Emilia Fox
Release year: 2009
IMDB Rating: 6.7

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