Tuesday Sep 02
TheatricalSin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)
28/08/2014 | Nikki Baughan

A decade after Robert Rodriguez teamed up with graphic novelist Frank Miller to bring Miller’s celebrated Sin City to jaw-dropping life, their follow-up navigates the same schlocky, sweaty, super-stylised path of bloody crime and bloodier retribution.


TheatricalThe Double (2013)
29/07/2014 | Nikki Baughan

British actor turned director Richard Ayoade follows up his sublime debut Submarine with the altogether different – but equally as excellent – The Double. His adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella, co-written with Avi Korine swaps the bleak suburbs of Swansea for t [ ... ]


More Theatrical Reviews

Dorian Gray (2009)

Theatrical

The ugly truth...

Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has long proved a source of inspiration for film-makers across the globe, from the 1945 classic named after the novel to the 2003 actioner The Leaue of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which the character appeared as a minor player. The original novel's aesthetic may be pure 19th century gothic, but its themes of desire and mortality remain of universal fascination; so it is that we are presented with the latest in a long line of Gray adaptations.

This retelling is directed by Oliver Parker, who has a history with bringing classic works of literature to the big screen having previously helmed Othello (1995), An Ideal Husband (2002) and The Importance of Being Earnest (2002). He was also behind last year's raucous St Trinian's rehash, which may give you an early clue as to what to expect here.

Ben Barnes adds another floppy haired hearthrob string to his acting bow - following similar turns in Stardust, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Easy Virtue - as Dorian, the young lad who comes, fresh-faced and innocent, into the heaving bosom of 19th century London. Meeting Lord Harry Wotton (Colin Firth), Dorian is introduced to the idea of debauchery as entertainment. When painter Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) captures the young man's beauty in a highly lauded painting, Dorian sees just how good he looks on canvas and, clearly having never heard of Botox, he declares that he would sell his soul to look that good forever. Hey presto the deal is done, and Dorian realises that he can live a live of hedonism, whores and homicide without consequence - well, besides the painting going a bit mouldy. Several decades later, however, and he's discovering just how high a price he's having to pay for immortality...

That the entire premise hangs on the character of Dorian is undoubtedly this film's fatal flaw; Barnes may have a boyband charm but it's unlikely anyone over the age of 14 will understand why every single person he encounters, whether male or female, is enamoured by his beauty to the point of hysteria. And he doesn't provide the emotional range needed to embue the story with the psychological depths it requires - despite the film's many, and samey, sequences of Dorian behaving badly, the narrative lives or dies not in its action, but in its introspection. The true nature of unchecked desire is never truly explored and, by the time Dorian realises what he has become, and Barnes actually showcases some dramatic muscle, it's too little, too late.

Parker, too, has concentrated on the oppulent look and visual gimmicks at the expense of exploring his characters. They are all drawn in too-broad strokes for such an intense story; Firth's Lord Wotton is almost a charicature, spouting one-liners and cliche, and although Chaplin's Basil is the most interesting character - and indeed the catalyst for the strange events - he is woefully underused. Even the painting itself, teasingly hidden until the film's climax, is disappointing, looking more like a watercolour that's been out in the rain than the putrid symbol of a rotten soul. The whole thing plays like MTV meets Penguin Literary Classics, all fast editing and high gloss cinematography that just can't compensate for the lack of any emotional resonance. And, despite its seductive premise, it's just plain dull.

2 stars

ROLL CREDITS...
Stars Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin
Director Oliver Parker
Screenplay Toby Finlay, from the novel by Oscar Wild
Certificate 15
Distributor Momentum
Running Time 1hr 52mins
Opens September 9

Theatrical Reviews Archive

The Woman in Black (2012)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Man on a Ledge (2012)
Night at the Museum 2 (2009)
Orphan (2009)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Star Trek (2009)
Black Swan (2010)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Tormented (2009)
Coraline (2009)
Adam (2009)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
The Wrestler (2008)
Aliens in the Attic (2009)
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Summer Scars (2007)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Blind Loves (2008)
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Moon (2009)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Helen (2008)
Cherry Blossoms (2008)
Hereafter (2010)
Delta (2008)
Dorian Gray (2009)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Bottle Shock (2008)
Just Another Love Story (2007)
Watchmen (2009)
District 9 (2009)
The Disappeared (2008)
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Afghan Star (2008)
Fireflies in the Garden (2009)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Anything For Her (2008)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Sunshine Cleaning (2009)
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Gran Torino (2008)
New Town Killers (2008)
Frozen River (2008)
Zombieland (2009)
Heartless (2009)
Frozen (2010)
500 Days of Summer
The Scouting Book For Boys (2009)
The Expendables (2010)
Year One (2009)
Predators (2010)
Awaydays (2009)
Tetro (2009)
Public Enemies (2009)
Hierro (2009)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009): Review & Clips
The Road (2009)
Source Code (2011)
Robin Hood (2010)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Shutter Island (2010)
Fuck (2005)
The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)
Lebanon (2009)
The Unborn (2009)
Cemetery Junction (2010)
The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans (2009)
Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
Submarine (2011)
Drive Angry 3D (2011)
The Double (2013)
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Prince Avalanche (2013)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

Like it? Share it!