Dorian Gray (15)
Friday 11 September 2009
For Oliver Parker to have made one Oscar Wilde adaptation (An Ideal Husband) could be considered a misfortune.
To have made another (The Importance of Being Earnest) looks like carelessness. To be responsible for a third (it has been shortened from The Picture of Dorian Gray) perhaps deserves a smack. Ben Barnes is the handsome but drippy eponym painted by Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) and led from innocence to depravity by the sybaratic Henry Wotton (Colin Firth). A swift transition, this: Dorian takes one puff on an opium pipe and suddenly becomes a cold-eyed seducer, pederast and murderer. The location work is fine (Witanhurst on Highgate Hill gives the best performance), but Parker's staging and direction are hopelessly inert; the orgy scenes are knocked off from Eyes Wide Shut, while the later movement into darkness looks (and sounds) like a cheap slasher movie. The Wildean wit, needless to say, has not survived the transition.
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