Oliver Parker wants to ruin Oscar Wilde's entire repertoire

Not content with having turned both An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest into overblown, overacted, unfunny messes (in my opinion, of course), director Oliver Parker has set his sights on Oscar Wilde’s only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and has signed Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) as Gray and Colin Firth (BBC’s Pride & Prejudice) to play Lord Henry Wotton. Dorian Gray centers on “a young man who becomes the subject of a painting. As the man descends into a hedonistic lifestyle, the portrait begins to age and morph, but he doesn’t.”

While this is definitely good casting — Firth is always great and Barnes is pretty enough — Parker’s involvement makes me want to vomit. While the scripts were generally solid condensations of the plays and left large amounts of Wilde’s dialogue intact, Parker’s insistence on restaging things to be “bigger” rather than simply relying on the characters and dialogue to move the story forward was annoying. (Did a hot air balloon really need to be added into Earnest? Really, did it do anything for the film besides waste some of its budget?) Worse, he took terrific casts and apparently instructed them to act as if they thought they were the wittiest people on the entire planet, rather than playing it straight; the social commentary of Wilde’s plays is absolutely undermined when lines like “girls never marry the men they flirt with, girls don’t think it right” are played as characters making jokes, not characters earnestly believing that what they are saying is true.

The movie began shooting earlier this week, so there’s little hope that it will fall through. Mother. Fucker.

Posted on August 1, 2008 at 09:53 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: News

4 Responses

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  1. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-08-01 at 10:00
    Permalink

    True story:

    I rented An Ideal Husband once because the cast looked great, and I’m a huge fan of Oscar Wilde. Julianne Moore, Rupert Everett… how could it go wrong? But the incessant overacting and mugging from the ENTIRE cast ruined it for me.

    One year later. I see An Ideal Husband on the shelf. I go, “Huh. How have I not heard of this movie? Julianna Moore, Rupert Everett… how could this possibly be bad?”

    Honestly, I think the fact that Oliver Parker could turn a film adaptation of a play by one of my favorite writers into something THAT forgettable made me hate it even more than perhaps it deserved.

    (The Importance of Being Earnest is my favorite play of all time, so I tried to give it a chance… and was even more disappointed. sigh)

  2. Written by joy
    on 2008-08-13 at 12:50
    Permalink

    Generally speaking i try to avoid movies that were previously books that i love. especially if the director or any one else intimately involved in the filming process is, for lack of a better phrase, an ” idiot douche-tit”. That may be too harsh but anyone that can destroy Oscar Wilde’s works so completely, deserves it.

    Of course this will probably end up in the part of my brain that boycotts some movies very existence; for example the 3-d Alvin and the chipmunks, and that new movie coming out about the Aztec chihuahuas. By pretending they don’t exist i am both happier and healthier as i don’t hit my head against the wall.

  3. Written by Elizabeth J
    on 2009-07-28 at 11:13
    Permalink

    I don't think Dorian looks that bad but I haven't seen either of Parker's other films so maybe I'm just being naive. (Of course, I have seen a stage version of this story done by a CHURCH group with Dorian Gray being played by a girl and it was just…. weird. And not in a good way. So it's already been ruined once for me.)
    But I like Barnes well enough and I have enough faith in Firth not to totally blow this. Yeah, it looks overly Hollywood but if it gets some people to pick up the book that might otherwise have continued to ignore it, than I'm ok with that.

  4. Written by Elizabeth J
    on 2009-07-28 at 15:13
    Permalink

    I don't think Dorian looks that bad but I haven't seen either of Parker's other films so maybe I'm just being naive. (Of course, I have seen a stage version of this story done by a CHURCH group with Dorian Gray being played by a girl and it was just…. weird. And not in a good way. So it's already been ruined once for me.)
    But I like Barnes well enough and I have enough faith in Firth not to totally blow this. Yeah, it looks overly Hollywood but if it gets some people to pick up the book that might otherwise have continued to ignore it, than I'm ok with that.

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