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REVIEW: Dorian Gray (15)

PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:51 05 October 2010

Henry Wooton (COLIN FIRTH) and Dorian Gray (BEN BARNES) in DORIAN GRAY. In cinemas 11th September 2009
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Henry Wooton (COLIN FIRTH) and Dorian Gray (BEN BARNES) in DORIAN GRAY. In cinemas 11th September 2009

By Justin Matlock Two stars AFTER his adaptations of The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, director Oliver Parker goes for an Oscar Wilde hat-trick with Dorian Gray – but fails to find the back of the net. Like its good-looking lead chara

By Justin Matlock

Two stars

AFTER his adaptations of The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, director Oliver Parker goes for an Oscar Wilde hat-trick with Dorian Gray - but fails to find the back of the net.

Like its good-looking lead character, who stays forever young while his portrait ages, Wilde's classic tale still feels fresh - but Parker bodges the result with a ponderous production that feels lightweight and heavy-handed in all the wrong places.

Ben Barnes (better known as Prince Caspian from the Narnia sequel) does his best to capture Dorian's journey from naivety to depravity, but he's upstaged by Colin Firth, as Dorian's guide to naughty pleasure, Henry Wotton.

He gets all Wilde's best lines and sports some fancy facial hair.

Tone is the real problem. We get ballrooms and debauchery - sometimes in the same scene - but the film struggles to balance the costume drama with macabre Gothic horror and ends up half-heartedly wandering between the two.

Parker thinks a detailed recreation of Victorian London, plenty of sex scenes and a finale heavy on computer effects will obscure the flaws.

It doesn't and all the visual pyrotechnics seem out of place in a film about the rottenness that hides beneath the beautiful surface.


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