MGLFF Review: Picture of Dorian Gray

No doubt Oscar Wilde would have approved of director Duncan Roy relocating the setting of his Victorian-era Faustian exploration of youth, vanity, lust, and power to modern-day New York City. His superficial social-climbing stud — who now employs a multiscreen art installation, rather than a portrait, to prevent his beauty from fading — is very much at home practicing his scandalous ways in the city that never sleeps. Nor would Wilde have begrudged Roy the freedom to explicitly explore the homoerotic themes and ideals that he could only hint at in his book. Otherwise this remains pretty much your great-grandfather's Picture of Dorian Gray. Except that Roy's artistic aspirations get the better of him: His use of split-screen imagery is effective in chronicling the consequences of his subject's increasingly devilish behavior, but this Dorian Gray is just too plodding, pretentious, and humorless for its own good. It makes matters worse that the uncomfortable-looking David Gallagher offers a stiff and joyless portrait of the most hedonistic of literature's bad boys. At least there's Christian Camargo, who deliciously delivers the wittiest and most perverse of Wilde's lines with smug superiority as the manipulative Henry Wotton. "All art is useless," Wotton declares. Too bad Roy fails to mount a more persuasive argument to prove him wrong.


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