Dorian Gray (2009) Review

The portrait of Dorian Gray is the only novel Oscar Wilde wrote, I have never read it but had heard quite a bit about it. Therefore when I first saw that a new film version was going to be made I was very much looking forward to it. While the story is in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s I still think it has quite a modern spin on the tale.


Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) moves to London when his grandfather died as he inherited his estate. He soon meets Lord Henry Watton (Colin Firth) who tells him the type of life he should lead. This involves a life of drink, drunks and lots of sex. This was mainly brought about after Dorian quickly fell in love and got engaged, to a girl who was not in the right class for Dorian or his new found friends. Henry soon sets off to split it up as soon as possible, which he succeeds in doing. Dorian had a portrait painted of himself with Henry telling him he had to two best things going for him youth and money.

Dorian bargains his soul with the devil, therefore he never ages and stays forever young. But there is an awful twist in the tale. For each sinful thing that Dorian does the painting grows more ugly to show the true face of Dorian Gray. He keeps the painting locked up in the attic so no one can find out his secret. When he goes away for what I could work out was between 20 and 25 years and he came back looking exactly the same, Henry was very suspicious and figured out it had to be something to do with the painting.

For the story line I really enjoyed how consumed in looking youthful and how selling your soul to the devil as a concept could look. With Dorian becoming increasingly obsessed with it all, and not wanting anyone to figure out his secret which saw him killing people who got in his way to maybe finding out the truth.

I read a review last weekend saying that he drank and slept his way around London and he most certainly did. He had sex with everyone and pretty much anyone. Not just women a few men were also seen in the many sex scenes in this film. This was part of the reason I saw some modern ideas in the story, as a lot of sex with lots of different people does seem a more modern thing to do (I am not saying it did not happen then, but it is more talked about today). Some of the sex scenes are not the best but get the point across, some were amusing and admittedly some were very hot. This did all take up a large bulk of the film.

Performance wise I found Ben Barnes very charming as Dorian which was what they wanted him to be. But also quite irresistible, I do not think I could resist his charm if I was put in place of any of the women in the film. But I really do think the star of the film and scene stealer was Colin Firth. It was total opposite of his normal, nice guy characters. He had so many lines which were so funny, with smutty and dirty little comments that it made it even funnier that Colin had them. If anyone has seen or is going to see the film listen out for the “double or nothing” comment in such a hilarious scene.

Overall, I really am not afraid to admit that I enjoyed this film and found it a lot funnier than I thought it would be. Yes it has a lot about sex as well as a little bit about drugs and drink. But a young man is supposed to enjoy life right? But is he supposed to look young forever? Not really. But it is a very interesting story and I for one enjoyed it.

3 thoughts on “Dorian Gray (2009) Review

  1. I loved the book. I read it a few years ago and wrote a paper over it (comparing themes with another Oscar Wilde work). I love Wilde in general, actually. It sounds like it captured the book pretty well. I’m happy to hear it kept the humor. Oscar Wilde is a funny guy.

    Though I have to say… I raised an eyebrow at your comment about orgies and gay sex being a modern thing. No way. They’ve happened since ancient times, quite frequently. The reason it’s talked about more now is because our society has a stigma on sexuality and everything has to be politically correct… so these kinds of things have garnered a taboo or controversy, which constantly brings it out into the spotlight.


  2. I loved the book too. In fact I’ve just written a post about whether or not the film will live up to it.

    I was worried from some reviews I’ve read that the film might have missed the point of the book and got a bit too wrapped up in the Hedonism, which your reveiew confirms to an extent, but I’m hoping that there’s some meaning left in the film too.

    Oh and to agree with Nick above, the Romans and Greeks were notorious for bisexual behaviour, the orgies are by no means new!! 😛


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