Dorian Gray

2009

Dorian Gray

Critics Consensus

Despite a lavish and polished production, Dorian Gray is tame and uninspired with a lifeless performance by Ben Barnes in the title role.

45%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 38

39%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 45,504
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Movie Info

Dorian Gray is very handsome -- and very cursed. Young Dorian arrives fresh on the London social scene and is taken under the wing of Lord Henry Wotton who introduces him to the seedy pleasures of London life. When Dorian sees how incredible he looks in a newly painted picture of himself, he swears to do whatever it takes to look as young and handsome in real life as he does in the picture -- forever. His stunning good looks and charm soon attract the celebrity lifestyle and everything that it brings. Dorian finds himself slipping deeper and deeper into a world of sin, sex and celebrity, seemingly without any consequences. But as his actions become increasingly evil, for how long can he hide the secret behind his eternal youth?

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Cast

Ben Barnes
as Dorian Gray
Rebecca Hall
as Emily Wooton
Colin Firth
as Lord Henry Wooton
Rachel Hurd-Wood
as Sybil Vane
Ben Chaplin
as Basil Hallward
Douglas Henshall
as Alan Campbell
Fiona Shaw
as Agatha
Emilia Fox
as Lady Victoria Wooten
Caroline Goodall
as Lady Radley
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Critic Reviews for Dorian Gray

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (6)

  • While Wilde's wit remains firmly entrenched, there's also a gruesome vein of gothic horror, and elements of the original which existed in the subtext or were merely hinted at are brought graphically into the open.

    Aug 24, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Teenagers will love this film. They will love it because there are lots of close-ups of Barnes being done unto or doing unto others. As a vehicle for a rising and undeniably talented star, it hits the spot.

    Sep 11, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • These are interesting ideas, but they would work better if there was more decadence on show earlier on to nail Gray's corruption.

    Sep 11, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Some neat formal flourishes from its director Oliver Parker and a truly handsome supporting turn from Colin Firth, this story demands a more versatile and charismatic central player than the powerfully blank Ben Barnes.

    Sep 11, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It has the style of a Hammer shocker from decades ago; Wilde's romance is caricatured, certainly, but the whole thing is socked over with gusto.

    Sep 11, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Parker directs his version like a kid who, after one too many Haribos, has been let loose with a bumper-pack of poster paints.

    Sep 11, 2009

Audience Reviews for Dorian Gray

  • Mar 09, 2013
    Stylish and extremely artistic, but Barnes destroyed the titular character, I don't know why he was chosen, he really is not "Magnificent" It's bloody but messy at the same time. Disappointed.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2012
    A British aesthete realizes that a painting of him manifests all the physical evidence of anything he does. I'm trying not to be the snobby literature teacher whom everybody hated in high school or that literature survey class you were forced to take Freshman year, but the distortions that Oscar Wilde's masterpiece was subjected to in this film are almost too much to bear. Avoiding that persona, I'm forced to say that Lord Henry doesn't work as a character if he is bland and evil the way Colin Firth plays him here. The timeline of the film is vastly extended compared to the book, and Sybil's influence is reduced. These latter changes aren't particularly damning, but turning Henry into a leering villain is. Rather than Wilde's tale being about an extreme expression of the aesthete, <i>Dorian Gray</i> suggests that murder and illicit sex are logical extensions of the aesthete's philosophy. Because Wilde considered himself an aesthete, I doubt that he would approve. So it's clear that the film differs from the book, but these differences don't necessarily mean it's a bad film. No, the stolid performances and unevenness of the story make it a bad film. Overall, read the book or -- though I haven't seen it -- the older version, <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray</i>, can't be worse.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2011
    With music a bit tedious, confusing story, nothing outstanding performances and poor adaptation of the book, this film is worthy of oblivion.
    Rodrigo R Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2011
    This film is visually appealing. Colin Firth is a powerhouse in this film along with actors Ben Chaplin, and Rebecca Hall. The special effects visuals and the dressing of sets and costumes are all fantastic. This all said, the film is as if director Oliver Parker read Oscar Wilde's novel and then watched a 24/7 rerun of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, and then watched the abysmal end of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for the film's climax. The story of Dorian Gray and his mysterious painting is one of the best tales put to paper, and at first, the first act is set up rather well and the character development is rather nice. But by the time things begin to progress, that is where the story kind of fell apart, the script became rushed and the performance levels of the main star (Ben Barnes) and other supporting actors like Rachel Hurd-Wood diminished, seeminlgly abandoned for a film that looked good as opposed to telling a great story; and even this is only short lived because of the choppy editing of the center of the film. Not horrible, kept my attention, was definitely entertaining and engaging, but the parts that it lacked really could have been avoided if more effort and time were paid to them, and we would have really wound up with a masterwork, but alas, we do not.
    Matthew R Super Reviewer

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