There have been a few film adaptations recently but Dorian Grey, adaptation of the Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, is by all means one of the most engaging you will find. You not only sit back and watch from a distance, but also pulled into the tale as a man loses his soul to the dark side.
Dorian (Ben Barnes) arrives on screen as a man, who doesn’t drink, take drugs, sleeps around or is unfaithful. But when befriended by Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth) he is transformed from an innocent young man into an uncaring, selfish and deceitful individual. Somehow, though the words of one man and a painting from another, all Dorian’s lies, deceit, scars, guilt and age are put into the painting leaving Dorian as a carefree soulless man who doesn’t age, hold any regret or guilt and doesn’t care for who he hurts or murders. It is as if his soul or conscious is somehow transported into the painting and makes it come alive. This blithe lifestyle suits Dorian until his rotting painting is uncovered and the truth revealed.
Grey is an incredible character to watch on screen. Ben Barnes is a man that can project two sides of his personality; firstly and lastly a compassionate man and in the centre of the film, a dishonest person. He is an actor that has all the right qualities to portray any character possible. He is able to not only be sexy and innocent in his role as Dorian Grey, but also be mysterious and mischievous. There are some naughty scenes present as Dorian’s sexual adventures are depicted. They are done discreetly yet still effective, in due part because of Barnes abilities as an actor. Colin Firth is also a man of many talents. He has been seen on screen so many times playing the good guy, so to see him as a nasty bitter man who lies his way through life, drinking, sleeping around and using drugs is refreshing.
Director Oliver Parker made a vital decision in keeping the visual painting of Dorian’s inner demons hidden, as this is what keeps the audience on their toes and intrigued. You are kept guessing until the end as to how many disturbing things Dorian has performed in his time to create such a monstrosity. Dorian Grey somehow pulls you into the story with its mystery surrounding the painting. You never fully become aware as to how his soul or conscious is trapped in the painting, this remains a mystery. But, this ambiguity is what makes it is stimulating, engaging and delightful to watch.