Dorian Gray (2009 film)
British promotional poster
|Directed by||Oliver Parker|
|Produced by||Barnaby Thompson|
|Screenplay by||Toby Finlay|
|Based on||The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
|Music by||Charlie Mole|
|Edited by||Guy Bensley|
|Distributed by||Momentum Pictures|
|Box office||$22,410,097 |
This version is directed by Oliver Parker, written by Toby Finlay (his first screenplay), and stars Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray and Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton. The film tells the story of the title character, an attractive Englishman whose image is captured in an enchanted painting that keeps him from ageing. His portrait becomes tainted with every sin he commits, while he remains young and handsome.
When a naïve young Dorian Gray arrives in late Victorian London, by train, to inherit an estate left to him by his abusive grandfather, he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton, who introduces Gray to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Lord Henry's friend, society artist Basil Hallward, paints a portrait of Gray to capture the full power of his youthful beauty. When the portrait is unveiled, Gray makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay as he is in the picture—even his soul.
Gray meets and falls in love with budding young actress, Sibyl Vane. After a few weeks, he proposes marriage to her. Lord Henry tells Gray that having children is "the beginning of the end", and after the two men visit a brothel, Gray leaves Sibyl. Heartbroken, the young woman drowns herself. Gray learns of her death the following day from her brother, James ("Jim"), who also reveals that Sybil was pregnant with Gray's child. Enraged, Jim tries to kill Gray before being restrained and carried off by the authorities. Gray's initial grief soon disappears as Lord Henry persuades him that all events are mere experiences and without consequence. His hedonistic lifestyle worsens, distancing him from a concerned Hallward.
Gray returns home one evening to find that Hallward's portrait of him has become warped and twisted, and he soon realises that his off-hand pledge has come true; while the portrait ages, its owner's sins manifest as physical defects on the canvas. Before long, the curse imbued within Gray's portrait begins in earnest, resulting in Hallward's brutal murder after the artist reveals his secret. Gray dismembers and dumps Hallward's body in the River Thames, although the remains are soon recovered and buried.
Gray then leaves London to travel for many years, inviting Lord Henry to come with him although Lord Henry declines because of his wife's pregnancy. Gray returns to London and during the welcome back party the guests are surprised to see that he has not aged at all during his 18-year absence. He becomes close to Lord Henry's daughter, Emily, a member of the UK suffragette movement, despite Lord Henry's distaste for such a relationship because of Gray's lifestyle and unnatural appearance, Emily having provided Lord Henry with a greater moral focus and having changed him for the better.
Although Gray appears genuinely interested in changing his ways as he spends time with Emily, matters are complicated when he is confronted by Jim, still seeking revenge for his sister's death. Despite Gray's attempts to pretend to be someone else by pointing out his apparent age, Jim nevertheless deduces Gray's true identity, only to be killed by a train while pursuing Gray in the London Underground. As Gray makes arrangements to leave London with Emily, Lord Henry's study of old photographs makes him remember the time when he teased Gray to deal with the devil for eternal youth and beauty at the cost of his soul.
Breaking into Gray's house as Gray and Emily are making plans to leave together, Lord Henry discovers the concealed portrait, but is interrupted by Gray before he can uncover it. Although Gray attempts to convince Lord Henry that he still cherishes his friendship and genuinely loves his daughter, Lord Henry discovers the stained scarf of Basil in a box, prompting Gray to declare angrily that he is what Lord Henry has made him, the personification of the life Lord Henry preached but never dared practise. Full of anger and grief, Gray attempts to strangle Lord Henry but is distracted by Emily's call long enough for Lord Henry to knock him aside and expose the portrait.
Disgusted and horrified at the twisted sight on the canvas, Lord Henry throws a lit lamp at the portrait, causing it to catch fire, and then locks the gate of the attic to ensure that Gray and the painting are destroyed. Emily pleads with her father for the key. After seeing her and realising that he really loves her, he turns his back. As Lord Henry drags his daughter out of the house, Gray's last words are to assure Emily that she has his whole heart. Resolving to end it all, Gray stabs the painting with a poker, causing his body to age the years that it has never suffered, Gray charging at the portrait to impale it as his years catch up to him before the attic is consumed by an explosion.
A few months later, scarred from the explosion and after a futile attempt to reconcile with Emily over the phone, Lord Henry heads to his attic where he keeps the now-youthful portrait of Gray, grimly noting that nobody will look at it now. As Lord Henry leaves, the portrait's eyes glow, suggesting that Gray's soul may still be within the portrait even after his death.
- Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray
- Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton
- Ben Chaplin as Basil Hallward
- Rachel Hurd-Wood as Sibyl Vane
- Johnny Harris as Jim Vane
- Rebecca Hall as Emily Wotton
- Emilia Fox as Lady Victoria Wotton
- Fiona Shaw as Agatha
- Maryam d'Abo as Gladys
- Caroline Goodall as Lady Radley
- Michael Culkin as Lord Radley
Supporting parts are played by Pip Torrens as Victor, Gray's valet; Jo Woodcock as Lord and Lady Radley's daughter Celia; Max Irons as Lucius, a young man whom Gray assaults at a party for touching the key to the attic door; David Sterne as the theatre manager who first introduces Gray to Sibyl; and Douglas Henshall as Alan Campbell, an acquaintance of Gray's who is present when Jim Vane tries to strangle Gray.
The film began shooting in summer 2008 at Ealing Studios and locations across London and finished in October. The film received £500,000 of National Lottery funding via the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund.
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The film received mixed reviews. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 42% based on critics' opinions. Most of the negative reviews are based on the acting and of the story not following the original plot of the book.
- "Box Office Mojo - Dorian Gray".
- Archie Thomas (7 August 2008). "Rebecca Hall joins Dorian Gray". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
- "Line Up :: Official Fantàstic In Competition Selection". Sitges Film Festival. 9 May 2009.
- Dorian Gray on IMDb
- "Remake of Oscar Wilde Classic". screenafrica.com. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
- Dorian Gray at Rotten Tomatoes
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