I know this movie came out twelve years ago, but I only just recently discovered its existence and more recently, I was finally able to watch it on Hulu.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite novels. I’ve seen the 1945 movie and I really enjoyed it. I watched The League of Extraordinary Gentleman movie and I was disappointed with that entire movie, especially their depiction of Dorian Gray and the way his character met his end (which kinda, sorta, but not really followed the book). Also, Stuart Townsend as Lestat was perfection, but he let me down in his portrayal of Dorian Gray. Then we had Dorian Gray in the show Penny Dreadful, which was an interesting show and Reeve Carney who played Dorian Gray was great, but his depiction left me feeling like something was missing. So in short- I was skeptical about this movie.
So let’s start with the good things about this movie:
- Colin Firth is in it and he is one of my favorite actors. He has had a role in so many movies I love (the Bridget Jones movies and The Kingsman movies being some of those movies). So when I saw he was in this movie, I was excited.
- Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray was by far the best depiction of him I’ve seen. Every time he was on the screen, my eyes were glued to it. He made Dorian more seductive, more charming, and have more depth than the book gives him.
- The movie basically fills in all the pieces that the book doesn’t give us. Obviously there is a huge difference in what could be shown/said in 2009 versus 1891 when the novel was published. So I appreciated that we got to see a bit of the debauchery that Dorian was getting himself into.
- The settings and costumes of this movie were phenomenal.
- This movie followed the book better than I anticipated. Like I mentioned above, it did add things that weren’t in the book, but overall there wasn’t too much I could complain about.
Now for the not so good things about this movie:
- Above I professed my happiness about Colin Firth being in this movie. Though that is completely true, I don’t feel he was quite the right choice for Lord Henry. I don’t remember which movie it was, but he played another villain of sorts and I just didn’t buy it. It was the same with this movie, it was hard to completely buy into him as a the one leading Dorian down the path of debauchery. Great actor, just not the right role for him.
- There were a few scenes in the movie that didn’t happen the way they did in the book. One of them being the way Sybil’s brother James dies. I won’t spoil how he dies in the movie, but in the book, he is killed by a hunter during a hunting party on Dorian’s country estate. Another is the ending, with how Dorian gets rid of the portrait and ends his life. I understand for the sake of a movie things need to be more visually appealing, which means details get skewed for the sake of cinematic value. But with these two scenes, I definitely believe they could have kept them true to the book and still gotten their cinematic value.
- Though I appreciated that we got to see some of the debauchery that Dorian committed, there were times when I felt more like I was watching a porno than a movie about one of my favorite books. I’m no prude when it comes to sex in books or movies, but it was just a little too much at times.
- Near the end of the book, Dorian decides to become virtuous and doesn’t take advantage of a young girl who has fallen for him. He thinks that honorable act will change the portrait in a positive way, it doesn’t. In the movie, there is a full blown love story arc between him and Emily, Lord Henry’s daughter, and I could have done without it. This is another thing I felt was added for cinematic value and also as a way to try to make it seem like Dorian can be redeemed by love (which is the premise of how numerous romance novels and romantic movies). It just felt cliche and unnecessary.
I would give this movie 4 stars out of 5, that’s how much I enjoyed it. I will definitely be rewatching it in the future. It wasn’t the best book to movie translation I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t anywhere near the worst. So if you haven’t seen this movie and you’re a fan of the novel, I would recommend giving this a watch! If you do, let me know what you thought of it! I hope everyone has a great start to their week!
P.S. I know its been about 2 weeks since my last post and I’m sorry for that. Things have been hectic on my end, some big changes have happened, and other big changes are in the process of happening. My focus has been split and I’ve been trying to get my life balanced. So I am hoping to return to a solid blogging schedule again soon! Thank you all for your patience and support throughout the rough times I’ve been through in the past 1-2 years. And to all my new followers, welcome! I’m glad to have you here.
HI Michelle, I have neither read the book nor watched this movie, but I think I must read the book as I’ve read a few good commentaries and reviews about it.
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I’d definitely recommend the book! It’s one of my favorites 🙂
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