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A picture of imperfection.

DORIAN GRAY (15, 112 mins) Drama/Horror/Romance. Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin, Rebecca Hall, Emilia Fox, Harriet Walter. Director: Oliver Parker. Contains swearing, sex & violence THE corruptive power of celebrity casts a long, dark shadow over Victorian London in Oliver Parker's take on Oscar Wilde's gothic horror, adapted for the screen by Toby Finlay. Opening with the title character throwing his monogrammed clothes trunk into the Thames in the dead of night, Dorian Gray stylishly evokes the social whirl and squalor of the capital.

The set and costumes are impressive, much more so than Ben Barnes, pictured, whose portrayal of the hero is more wooden than the frame of the infamous portrait.

Emotion scarcely troubles Barnes's porcelain face, and it's hard to understand why the womenfolk of the city would swoon at a Dorian so lacking in charisma or vitality. The lifelessness of the main character is thrown into greater relief by Colin Firth's eyecatching supporting performance as his corrupter. Dorian Gray is Parker's second adaptation of Wilde, 10 years after An Ideal Husband, and the move from comedy to horror doesn't suit the director well.

Barnes's shortcomings in the pivotal role prove fatal, even with sterling work from Firth.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2009
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