Oliver Parker and Toby Finlay have given Oscar Wilde's one and only novel an uneeded, big screen touchup. Normally I would be open to this idea; there is good story here that addresses a darker side of society that I think could translate well into modern cinema. Regrettably, Dorian Gray fails to serve as a either statement or a good film.
If you are into handsome, young gentlemen who can't act then you will probably enjoy Ben Barnes' performance as an underdeveloped Dorian Gray, who forfits his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. In what could have been a fantastic role for him, not even Colin Firth as Lord Henry, the man who convinces Dorian that youth and beauty are the only two things worth having, can save this film from being a complete distaster.
Writer Toby Finlay's script serves as only a hollow, boring representation of Wilde's novel. Too much attention is paid to the sin of earthly pleasures that the filmmakers totally forgot about the virtue of viewing pleasure as Dorian partakes in the company of an abundance of strumpets, and even a few gentlement, in scene after scene of vulgar relations , which gets old real fast.
Colin Firth's malicious interpretation of Lord Henry comes off as if he is trying to turn Dorian into a bad person, which is almost the only plotline here, instead of it feeling like a mentorship. Once Dorian succumbs to Henry's temptations, we are hammered with one sinful act after the other with almost no exploration of their effects on his personal life before the outrageous climax, which now extends years beyond the novel for no apparent reason.
Much like its title character, Dorian Gray is soulless and superficial. It pretends to serve as a profound declaration of society's greed and temptations when, in fact, nothing of the sort comes across and there isn't anything here is worth entertainment value.