By | 02/10/2009 0 comments


AFTER Dracula was sexed-up into Van Helsing and The Mummy was rebooted by Brendan Fraser and co, Frankenstein must be due for an unwelcome remake.
But for now, fans of creepy classics will have to settle for a retelling of Oscar Wilde's gothic parable Dorian Gray, in the hands St Trinian's director Oliver Parker.
The resulting film, as great looking as its titular figurea Victorian-era playboy who trades his soul for endless youth and beauty, is a perfectly functional and enjoyable drama.
There's plenty of eye candy for all tastes, mouthfuls of quotable lines and just a little food for thought.
For the most part, this is faintly creepy fare rather than anything scary or shocking.
Gray's mentor Henry Wootton (Colin Firth), who could easily be a sinister figure, has a delightfully camp air of the pantomime villain about him, and Firth, in a role he must have relished, gives one of the movie's most enjoyable performances.
The 15 rating must stem from the occasional flashes of flesh as Ben Barnes' Gray romps his way through the ladies of London, as there's little to cause nightmares.
Indeed, for the most part it's a very attractive production, from its handsome star to the colourful settings of his hedonist indulgences.
But Parker's Dorian is not just a pretty faceit does offer something for the grey matter, too.
The central messagethat celebrity and fortune based solely on beauty and charm are worthless if their possessors' inner soul is rotten to the coreis a welcome one in an age when talentless "celebs" are feted purely for their looks.
The moral of Wilde's tale is as relevant as evereven if his painting's not as shocking.

Running time: 132 minutes.
Gothic horror.
*** (out of five).

Read the full review on the Advertiser website.

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