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Hesitantly falling between chintzy Hammer horror and cosy costume drama, director Oliver Parker's third Oscar Wilde adaptation (after
The Importance of Being Earnest
An Ideal Husband
) is a sumptuous but bland affair. Ben Barnes stars as the titular handsome socialite who's lured by mentor Henry Wotton (Colin Firth, keeping the celebrated bon mots forcefully in check) into wanton ways, while his portrait bears the scars of his misdeeds. The main changes in this version of the story are the addition of a new character in the form of romantic interest Emily Wotton (Rebecca Hall) and the fact that the infamous portrait is depicted as a living entity, whose sudden CGI movements provide the odd frisson. Dissolves from jam scones to (tamely depicted) S&M orgies perfectly sum up the quaint awkwardness of this chocolate-box confection.
A naive Victorian man unthinkingly sells his soul for eternal youth, wishing that a portrait of him should age instead. His wish is granted and he is drawn into a life of debauchery by a hedonistic lord, while over the years, the painting becomes increasingly horrific as it reflects his corrupt true nature. Horror, based on Oscar Wilde's novel, starring Ben Barnes, Colin Firth and Ben Chaplin.
Cast & Crew
Lord Henry Wotton
Lady Victoria Wotton
Violence, sex scenes, nudity and drug abuse.
DVD and Blu-ray
4 Sep 2009
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