Dorian Gray

September 9th, 2009

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Dorian Gray

Still of Ben Barnes in Dorian GrayDorian GrayStill of Ben Barnes in Dorian GrayStill of Ben Barnes in Dorian GrayStill of Ben Barnes in Dorian GrayStill of Ben Barnes in Dorian Gray

A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty eternally, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 6.2/10 (20,967 voted)

Director: Oliver Parker

Stars: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall

Fresh-faced and innocent, Dorian Gray arrives in London to move into the house he has inherited. Almost immediately he falls under the influence of amoral and calculating Lord Henry Wotton, leading to a life of increasing debauchery and even violence. Through many years Gray stays as young-looking as ever, while a portrait painted when he arrived grows old, reflecting his increasing excesses. Eventually the picture, now secreted in his attic, becomes almost hideous to behold. When true love finally enters his life he realises he must guard his secret at all costs.

Writers: Oscar Wilde, Toby Finlay

Ben Barnes - Dorian Gray
John Hollingworth - Patrol Policeman
Cato Sandford - Rent Boy
Pip Torrens - Victor
Fiona Shaw - Agatha
Ben Chaplin - Basil Hallward
Caroline Goodall - Lady Radley
Maryam d'Abo - Gladys
Michael Culkin - Lord Radley
Colin Firth - Lord Henry Wotton
Emilia Fox - Lady Victoria Wotton
Nathan Rosen - Young Dorian
Jeff Lipman - Lord Kelso (as Jeffrey Lipman Snr)
Louise Kempton - Prostitute
Douglas Henshall - Alan Campbell

Taglines: Forever Young. Forever Cursed.


Official Website: Castello Lopes Mulimédia [Portugal] | Official site |

Release Date: 9 September 2009

Filming Locations: Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Berkshire, England, UK

Opening Weekend: £883,148 (UK) (13 September 2009) (348 Screens)

Gross: $20,563,362 (Worldwide) (22 August 2010)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

This is the second film starring Rachel Hurd-Wood (Sybil Vane) that involves an eternally youthful male lead. The first was Peter Pan.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: (At 16:00) When Dorian, Basil, and Lord Wotton are out for drinks in the bar/music hall you see Lord Wotton pouring alcohol from a "Hendrick's Gin" bottle; (it is a very distinctive dark glass bottle with a very distinctive diamond shaped label). "Hendrick's Gin" was not produced until 1999. The bottle is a standard apothecary bottle, and the label is also standard for the times. The bottle for Hendrick's is made to look like an old time apothecary bottle.

Emily Wotton: I hope I'm not interrupting your reminiscence?
Lord Henry Wotton: One charm of the past, is that it's the past.
Emily Wotton: Hmm... I hope you're not also a dreary old cynic?
Dorian Gray: What is there to believe in?
Emily Wotton: Our developments.
Dorian Gray: All I see is decay.
Emily Wotton: For the religion.
Dorian Gray: Fashionable substitute for believe.
Emily Wotton: Art.
Dorian Gray: Formality.

User Review

Who would have thought debauchery could be so dull?

Rating: 5/10

A young man's soul becomes trapped in his portrait. He goes on to lead a life of corruption, staying young and immortal, while the painting displays the consequences of his behaviour.

This film is beautifully shot, competently told, but it is boring, in spite of the fact that it moves at such a fast pace. Significant events, such as Dorian's relationship with Sybil, and the murder of Basil, are glossed over in a matter of minutes. I get the impression that the film makers were keen to get the boring story parts over as quickly as possible so that they could get on with filming scantily-clad women. There is little chance for any character or plot development and as a consequence Dorian's descent into corruption seems very false. Why does he look up to Henry so much and believe everything he says? I'm presuming that Dorian sees him as a father figure, going by the scenes shown of him being beaten by his uncle as a child (this is never developed into anything significant), but then why Henry over, for example, the much kinder Basil? Likewise, when Sybil kills herself, we don't really care, as her relationship with Dorian was nothing more than a brief contrivance to get them into bed together. As soon as you saw she was playing Ophelia in the theatre, it was obvious she was going to end up in the river.

For a Certificate 15, this film is very tame. None of the sex scenes are particularly graphic and there is no excessive nudity. We see Dorian at a variety of orgies all populated by people wafting about in stupid costumes. In a predictable double standard, the movie is happy to show women in various aspects of promiscuity, but Dorian's homosexual behaviour is merely hinted at. Likewise, Dorian's drug use is rarely ever shown. The strangest thing about this movie is that it seems to focus on Dorian's love of sex, rather than his much worse vices of drug abuse and murder, as the main reason for his corruption, but frankly I've seen more debauchery in an Anne Summers catalogue. Most of his sexual encounters are between consenting adults, so why is this such a terrible thing? He "seduces" first Sybil and then the daughter of one of his friends (and her mother), but these women are portrayed as being so vapid and clueless that I didn't feel any sympathy for them at all, especially Sybil who mentions how she's seen what has happens to other girls in the gin houses who sleep around … and then drops her caution (and her clothes) in a second just because Dorian tells her he loves her, literally just after they've met! The far worse reason for Dorian's downfall - the murder of his friend Basil - is quickly skirted over. The murder comes out of the blue. Basil sees the painting and offers help to Dorian, who promptly kills him. Why? Throughout the film, Dorian never shows any shame or remorse about his behaviour (until the end anyway) so why does he care if people see the painting? There is no build-up, Dorian doesn't show any predilection for violence and when the murder occurs, it seems out of character, as does the cold way in which he disposes of the body, rather than, say, panicking and having a guilty breakdown.

Considering some of the names on display, the acting isn't great. Ben Barnes is pretty enough, until he takes his clothes off and the idea that no woman or man can resist that scrawny body is laughable. He looks about 12. I'm not a big fan of Colin Firth either who continues his attempt to shake off the romantic hero typecasting he's got stuck with (why is this so bad by the way?), but he just doesn't convince as a bad guy, nor as someone charismatic enough to lead Dorian astray. His daughter, Emily, is played by Rebecca Hall, the best actor in this film, but unfortunately saddled with another wafer-thin character. To begin with, she is portrayed as being a sensible, independent modern woman … until she meets Dorian and then descends into the familiar role of vacuous, unquestioning love interest that most of the actresses in this film have been saddled with. It's also a shame the character of Henry's wife wasn't built up a bit more - a few lines in the beginning hint that she knows exactly what her husband has been up to and disapproves of his influence on Dorian. It would have been more interesting to have a few "light" characters to counterbalance all the "dark" temptations that Dorian is subjected to, as well as providing a moral framework to hang the good/bad conflict on. Lip service is paid to the concept of the soul and religion, but is not explored in any depth.

The one thing this movie excelled at was building up the evilness of the painting. In a wonderful double-standard, Henry is shocked when he sees it, in spite of the fact that he's the one who has been promoting a life of debauchery from the start. I thought it was a shame that we only saw Dorian become his real self for a short time. Perhaps budgetary constraints were responsible for that. It's also a shame that Emily never gets to see his "true" face and find out exactly what she has fallen in love with, particularly as she did not seem to question anything about his abhorrent behaviour before she jumped into bed with him.

When we finally see the painting, it is a huge anticlimax. It's not that corrupt, shocking or scary. Much like this movie in fact.

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