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Cast | Classic Lines | Mini Review | News | Notes | Pictures | Summary from Video Box | My Summary | My Review
|Henry Wooten||Malcolm McDowell|
|Detective Giatti||Ron Lea|
|Bea Conni||Jennifer Nitsch|
|Trina Rausch||Bronwen Booth|
|Cop at Crime Scene||Henri Pardoo|
|Woman #1 at Dorian's Loft||Daniela Ferrera|
|Woman #2 at Dorian's Loft||Jane McLean|
|Dinah Baker||Ellen David|
|Mariella Steiner||Victoria Sanchez|
|Rolf Steiner||Christoph Waltz|
Directed by Allan A. Goldstein
Written by Oscar Wilde
All by Henry Wooten
"Being natural is just a pose and the most irritating one I know."
"Do not think. Intellect destroys the harmony of any face. Beauty is a form of genius, it needs no explanation."
"Age makes me rather sad. By 50 every man has the face he deserves, how's that for terrifying?"
"Decadence fascinates me."
"Art is a sickness. Love is an illusion."
"What did the poet say? Shove it where the sun don't shine."
"We're not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices."
"Reveal the art, conceal the artist. That's the trick."
"Death is the only thing that terrifies me. I hate it."
It has a modest budget with a smart producer who sacrificed the exterior locations and most of FX for the sake of getting great visuals. Even though only a few sets are used they are all magnificent. Almost the whole film takes place in a few apartments, rooms, studios and houses. A few scenes are on some seedy street and in a limousine, but that's about it. It was a wise decision. Some computer-generated stylized images of a 'big city" are used between the scenes and it works to give the movie a slightly otherworldly feel. It has nice dialogue, some claim to 'artsiness' with Malcolm narrating. It has rich and lavish visuals, an insight into the fashion business and basically all people in the film look gorgeous. There is a dirty street junkie, and an ordinary police detective, and that's it. The rest of the cast is polished, sophisticated and clothed in designer outfits. Eye candy, in short. Malcolm walks like a young, cocky guy. He behaves in that way.
"Dorian is a bit of a sore spot. It was potentially a really good movie, but Malcolm has never seen it. Malcolm was never paid for the performance or at least not fully paid. The producer, Luciano Lisi screwed him. It is not supposed to be released without the final payments being made, so the DVDs shouldn't be out. Malcolm enjoyed the making of the film, it was a small budget but the whole experience was ruined by Luciano. It has never happened to Malcolm in all of his career. It was a bad situation." - The Insider.
Moonstone recently announced an alliance with horror director Tobe Hooper to collaborate on the dark comedy "Planning Lawrence Fankhauser's Death." The first picture under the deal is Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," to be written and directed by Allan A. Goldstein. Goldstein most recently directed the thriller "Dorian," an adaptation of "The Portrait of Dorian Gray," starring Malcolm McDowell.
Filmed in Quebec, Canada and the UK by Cinema 4 Films Inc. in 2001.
This is an independent film which is distributed by Moonstone.
A bootleg showed up in Russia 3/03 before anywhere else.
Released in the UK as 'Pact with the Devil' in 8/03 - most likely a bootleg.
Released on DVD in Hong Kong in 9/03 by Universal Laser & Video Co. This is a professional release in Dolby Digital, Region 0, with animated menus, trailer and Chinese subtitles - not a cheap bootleg.
89 minutes, Rated R. Dolby Digital
In memory of Glenn Tussman 1967-2002
Screen shots in order of appearance
Malcolm's screen credit
Henry during the police interview
Henry at the Sauvage shoot
Henry sneaking off some photos
Henry making the bargain with Dorian
Henry secretly photographing Dorian
Henry with Dorian at the release party
Henry rips into Dorian about wanting to play
Henry laughing at Dorian
Henry eyeing up the next victim
Hong Kong DVD Cover - Front
Hong Kong DVD Cover - Back
Hong Kong DVD
Russian VCD/DVD Covers
From the bootleg Russian Release!
A new mystical thriller adapted from the famous book by Oscar Wilde. The intriguing plot and the fabulous performance of the magnificent Malcolm McDowell won't leave any fan of the genre cold. Dorian Gray, a young ambitious man dreaming of a big career in the fashion business, strikes a bargain with the Devil himself. The bargain will allow him to keep his youthful handsomeness forever. With the help of his powerful patron Dorian gets everything he could ever wish for - money, fame and fortune, gorgeous women and eternal youth! But is he ready to pay the price set by the Devil? Louis is a photographer's assistant. A simply beautiful young man with beautifully simple dreams...until he meets Henry. Henry convinces Louis to sell his soul so hat fame, fortune and eternal youth could all be his. An innocent Louis converts to Dorian, a self-centered, self indulgent, self destructive, forever gorgeous, super model. Its grotesque disfiguring reflects every unconscionable act born out of Doran. Trapped inside Dorian's flawless body, Louis wants out. But a pact is a pact. And escape is impossible.
The story begins in the modern day at a crime scene in a New York City loft.
There are lots of quick glimpses at the streets below and the
detectives doing their work on the scene, bloody prints, collecting evidence,
etc. Detective Giatti sits down with Henry Wooten on the scene because Henry
knew both of the victims. He explains he knew them since they first met.
The story then goes back to June 1980. Bea is the hottest photographer around and Henry was her manager. They are shooting an ad campaign for a new perfume called Sauvage - the scent that drives your lover wild. Henry notices Louis who is a gopher after he serves a model the wrong drink and she freaks on him. Bea continues to take many pictures of scantily clad models in a jungle setting. Henry likes what he sees and takes his own pictures behind her. When one of the models waves to Henry she trips over a light cord. Louis dives to catch it and Henry photographs him noticing there is something to him. Then Henry shows the police detective the broken picture he shot.
Back to 1980. Henry goes over to talk to Louis and finds out he is also a photographer who only took the job to make extra money. Henry would like to see his work, but he isn't in any gallery. Henry wonders about him and explains his philosophies. Bea hears this and comes over and tells Louis not to pay any attention to him. Louis goes to leave and Henry tells him he should try being in front of the camera.
Henry hears Louis has a girlfriend he is planning to marry and follows them taking their pictures as he doesn't believe in marriage for artists. He follows them to their apartment where James the junkie is in front hitting them up for money and when Henry sees Louis' girlfriend Sybil trying to close the window he continues to take pictures. They start to make out and he removes her shirt and bra as Henry snaps away.
Henry shows his pictures of Louis to Nino who owns Sauvage and they both agree he is the face they want. With a little persuading of Bea and lots of pushing of Louis he agrees. They have a shoot at the same studio soon after. Louis is all stiff at first and falls down. Henry takes him upstairs and gives him a drink and relaxes him. He tells him he wants to make him a super model, then he can become a photographer or whatever he wants. Louis then goes back down and gets into it. He is a natural. Henry takes one final picture of them after the shoot.
Bea blows up the picture Henry took and invites Louis over to his place for drinks. Henry makes the deal with Nino and Louis is the new face of Sauvage. Henry tells him Bea took the picture and really captured something there. He talks of age and beauty and says he is like Dorian from the Oscar Wilde play. Louis doesn't know the play. Henry explains that Dorian was beautiful and an artist painted his picture. Dorian wishes he could always be like the person in the picture. He makes a deal that he will never age, only the picture will. Louis likes the idea and Henry says then he is the new Dorian. He tells him that should be his model name. Louis thinks it is a bit pretentious, but likes it.
Back at Louis' apartment Sybil is asleep when he returns. He gets himself a longneck beer and thinks about what Henry told him about age and cursing the picture when he gets older. He goes to pop the cap off and cuts his thumb. He remembers what Henry said about Dorian and writes the name "Dorian" in blood on his mirror and says it is a deal. Henry hears him from across the town and says it is a bargain and it is forever.
Soon after Henry takes Dorian to the big premiere for Sauvage. It is at a trendy disco club with women in cages and a wild dance party. Sybil is across the club and is miserable. She tries to come over and get Dorians' attention, but cannot. Trina comes over and comes on to Dorian, but Henry blows her off for him. Dorian isn't sure of that and when Sybil sees this she heads for the exit. Henry points her out to Dorian and he runs over to her. She wants out of it, but he tells her it is OK and he loves her. They kiss and leave together.
The next day Dorian wants to take Sybil away. She doesn't like it and he wants to be a photographer. Henry tells him not to think of it because he has momentum and he can't squander it. He is on a roll, but Dorian admits he doesn't know what he wants. Henry says that is what he is there for and gives him the keys to his new Manhattan loft on the top floor right above them. He thinks Sybil will love it.
He returns to Sybil and she hates the idea. She doesn't want to move and doesn't like they way he is being treated. He tells her to come and look at it. If she won't do that at least she should go with him to Henry's apartment for a party. It's after midnight and she doesn't want to go. He wants to know why she would want to stay in junkie infested place like this. She yells at him that she isn't shooting up again and that he is selling out everything he believes in and belongs with the uptown jerks he has become. He pushes her away and she hits the wall and breaks a picture frame. He goes to apologize, but she won't hear it and wants him out. He leaves. Sybil cries and Henry watches knowing it is over.
Dorian arrives at Henry's and only Trina is there. She tells him Henry has left and the place is all theirs for the night. She takes him off to seduce him and Henry watches from the balcony. Meanwhile Sybil is crying and James comes up with a joint and some good heroin he scored. He gives her some to take a hit and she ties the tube around her arm and shoots up and passes out.
The next day Dorian takes a cab back home and James is being arrested. Dorian finds out she OD'ed on the drugs. Dorian flips and Henry shows up to take control. He tells the official in charge that he is his manager and doesn't want this to get out. He agrees to write it up as another OD. Henry tells Dorian to get his stuff and he'll take him to the new loft. Dorian goes upstairs crying and notices his picture has now aged a bit. He grabs it and wraps it and runs out. The picture is the only thing he is taking with him.
Back in the present the detective is surprised to hear Dorian thinks the picture really aged. Henry explains that Dorian threw himself into his work and they were very busy and had lots of fun, but he became harder to manage. Then the story jumps ahead to September 1990. Henry goes to Dorian's loft and he is half dressed and snorting coke. He was supposed to be at the studio two hours ago and now the shoot is cancelled. Dorian says he needs a shower and as Henry waits two scantily clad women come running out. Henry says he is worried about him because he is partying too much. Dorian says he is in great shape and there is nothing wrong with how he looks. Dorian says if he wants to know what is wrong to follow him. He takes him to a mirror and pulls it back to reveal his photograph. The photograph has now distorted and is all cut. Henry asks him what he wants and tells him he can have anything if he is willing to play. He can go to the top. He agrees. Henry tells him he has a big project for him. His life story in photographs as long as Bea is the photographer.
They go to meet her and Henry convinces Bea that all the artistic decisions will be hers and Dorians' with no outside interference. She agrees and they begin working together. She goes to his place and photographs him in every way bringing out the real Louis. Bea asks him what he wants. He says he wants to be a photographer when he is ready. Henry will let him know what that is. She thinks he has no dreams, just Henry's dreams. She wants him to be careful and be in charge of his life, not what Henry wants. She comes on to him in hopes of bringing him out of Henry's grasp and they become lovers.
After the book is finished Dorian tells Henry he is in love with Bea and he wants to marry her. Henry thinks he has lost his mind. He'll show him why that won't work. He opens up the picture and says that is the real Dorian. She'll need to see the picture if she wants to know the real him. He goes to call her up, but Dorian stops him. Dorian wants to be ordinary. Henry says he can make that happen and grabs a knife. He heads for the picture and tells him that'll be his face, but Dorian punches him and grabs the knife. Henry isn't mad and agrees to handle Bea for him.
The next night is the premiere party for the book and Diane the publisher is thrilled. Henry won't take credit for the book though she thinks he should. Trina sees Dorian for the first time in years and has now aged considerably. He tells her that Bea was just a fling and when Bea hears that she leaves. Henry introduces Dorian to Mariella, the wife of a rich European businessman Rolf Steiner. Dorian is enchanted and offers to show her the town. She agrees since her husband is coming. Dorian leaves with them in their limo.
Henry goes to Dorian's loft the next day, but he is not there. He checks the picture and that is gone too. Dorian calls him to say he is taking a vacation to Germany with Mariella and Rolf. Dorian says they have a contract and he has a screen test the next week and can't go. Back to the present Henry tells him he walked out on him even if he did have power of attorney.
Dorian lived in Bavaria for a few years like a gigolo. He would make love to Mariella while Rolf watched by hidden camera. We learn she even seduced him in the limo on that first night while Rolf was supposed to be knocked out. One day Rolf decides he wants Dorian out and shows Mariella the hidden tapes of them having sex. She refuses to throw him out, but Rolf is in charge. Rolf brings Dorian in and shows him the tapes too and when he turns the sound on Dorian gets mad. He tells Rolf he is going to leave with Mariella. Rolf says she'll never leave him, but she does because she is sick of him trying to control her. Before they can get out Rolf pulls a gun on her. Dorian grabs it and they struggle. The gun goes off and Rolf gets shot and dies and Dorian thinks he sees Henry. Mariella freaks out and asks Dorian what to do. Dorian is in his room with his picture which is now hideously deformed and bleeding. When he tells her that is him in the picture she runs away. He chases her down the stairs and grabs her. She loses her footing and falls down the rest of the way and breaks her neck. He goes back to destroy the picture, but can't do it.
Back in the present Henry says he took off from there and never heard from him again during the last 10 years. He never contacted Bea either and he went from one flesh fantasy to another spiraling out of control. He even wound up in a sex scandal in Bangkok. Then a week ago Bea had a big retrospective of her work and Henry held a party for her at his house.
During the party Dorian shows up and Diana, Bea and Trina are there. All of them have aged and Dorian still looks the same. Trina is mad at him for looking so good. Henry invites him out for a drink, but he refuses. He went back to his loft and cleaned the place up and is staying there. Henry leaves to take Trina and Diana home. Dorian asks Bea if he can borrow all the proofs she ever shot of him for something important. She agrees even though he won't say what he wants them for. On the way out Dorian runs into a photographer. It is James their old junkie neighbor. Dorian flips out because he thinks he killed Sybil. He says it wasn't him. She only flipped out after Henry came by and even paid for her drugs.
The next day Dorian takes all of Bea's pictures back to his apartment and burns them while trashing the place and everything in it. He destroys all of his stuff, the pictures and paints all over the walls.
No one hears from him for a while and Bea gets worried. Henry gives her his spare key and she goes over to see him. She calls for him and he pops out from behind the counter all a mess. The place is all hot and dark and she goes to let some light in and he flips out and grabs her. She smacks him and sees he ruined her pictures of him. She runs away and he shows her his picture which is now a complete mutation. He wants her to look at her work. He tells her it wasn't hers, Henry took the picture. She also says he wasn't the first. She too sold her soul for her art. She wants to set him free and goes to stab the picture, but he stops her. He throws her down and cuts her throat.
Henry calls to find out what happened and gets nowhere. He then goes to visit Dorian looking for Bea. Dorian asks Henry if he went to see Sybil the night she died. He says, "Did I?" Dorian points out Bea to him on the floor in the corner. He says he had no choice because she was going to cut his picture. Henry says that was wise because if the picture dies, then he dies. Dorian asks if he is going to call the police. He says he won't because they have a contract that goes on forever. He says he has the whole world, but no soul. He is perfect and unchanged after all this time. He has no talent and hasn't created anything, his life is his art. Dorian doesn't know what to think. He sees Henry near his painting with the knife and runs after him. He grabs the knife and winds up stabbing himself in the gut. After that he takes the knife and jams it into the painting. He falls to the floor and morphs into the monster in the picture. Henry calls for an ambulance.
Back in the present the detective asks to see the picture and Henry takes him over to it. The picture is now exactly like it looked on the first day. The detective is shocked how it looks compared to the monster they found there dead. The detective says they can wrap it up and leaves wishing him a happy new year.
The next day Henry takes the picture and puts it in a taxi cab paying the driver to deliver it to his doorman. He does this since he has spotted a new young man moving into the neighborhood and follows him down the street into a restaurant.
When you see a Malcolm movie there are three main
things you want - a great story, tons of Malcolm and his character isn't killed
off early. In Dorian you get them all in spades. Since this film is an adaptation of a
play it really only has two main characters - Dorian and Henry. Henry is the
devil. They never come out and say it, he doesn't have pointy horns or anything
dopey and cliché, but we know who he is. The closest they ever get is showing
him in his house with a large fireplace raging behind him. Subtle and effective.
This film reminds me of Night Train to Venice where Malcolm is mysterious and in charge of all that happens. While that film is dark and messy this film is bright and smart. It takes place in modern day New York and is told in flashback. Henry tells the detective what happened at the crime scene. Whether the film is 2002, 1990 or 1980 Malcolm looks the same. He and Dorian do not have to undergo any extensive aging makeup like the other characters. Henry is always old and Dorian is always young until the last minute.
It starts out a bit messy. High speed shots and lots of blurry cuts like it is in a dream. This got me worried, but that style quickly went away and never returned, thankfully. Like in the movie Tempo they used high speed shots of the city to show transition. Here all those shots took place in Times Square New York City and work well. This also makes it easier to believe that the rest of the film takes place in New York even though it was all filmed in Canada.
One very cool thing is that the 1980 sequence ends with a helicopter shot over the Brooklyn Bridge that stops on the World Trade Center. This is a beautiful tribute since the film was made in 2001 and was one of the last films to film the buildings and maybe one of the only to be released with them intact after they were destroyed. Of course the antenna was brand new in 1980 and didn't look like it did in 2001. The WTC was also shown in a night time shot during the 1990 sequence.
The director was also smart to keep a limited setting so while the film is really a period piece it isn't concerned with the trends of the day. We aren't deluged in the styles. Because it is about models it is easy to get around this. They wear outlandish clothes for the shoot anyway. When Henry and Dorian go to a club the people are all dancing and moving around so there is no way to focus in if they are wearing correct 80s styles. Henry wears suits so he fits in to any time period.
The soundtrack is loaded with trendy underground styles of trance, dance and rap. It is loud and in your face at times, but doesn't overwhelm or turn the film into a music video. The soundtrack has a Matrix feel to it and works well. New York is well known for it's music after all.
For a film about eternal beauty and limitless pleasure it is totally surprising that there is no nudity. When Henry watches Louis and Sybill he takes her bra off, but keeps her pressed close to him so nothing is shown. This continues in every sexual encounter. Skin is shown from different angles, but no private parts are shown on any of the women. I wonder what the reason was. Maybe to keep the film from heading down an erotic or softcore path?
This was Ethan's first role and he pulls it off well, even though he doesn't exactly have to carry the film. He is totally believable as the pretty boy who seems to have it all, but really has nothing. It goes without saying that Malcolm steals all the scenes here. He plays it very suave and sophisticated. All those around him believe he is the perfect gentleman. Only Bea knows the whole truth. When he is alone with Dorian he unleashes his passion. At times he nearly explodes with energy while not moving. It is like a powerful punch that cocks back, lashes forward and strikes. It is very cool to watch. He'll be at a normal level and then slam forward with a line like, "Do you want to play the game??" that is delivered with great force. It is not out of rage or anger, just emotion and works perfectly. It depended on what Dorian needed to hear at the time to keep him motivated and it was exciting because you never knew how he would deliver the lines.
Nitpicks include the bloody hand prints on the wall of Dorian's apartment in the beginning. They were those totally fake only seen in movies full flat hand prints. This is not possible because the shape of the palm is not flat. Cover your hand with paint and push it against a canvas. It is not possible to get a full print because the middle of the palm will never touch. Also when Dorian made his deal by writing Dorian on the mirror in blood the blood was thick and bright red. Real blood is thin and darker. When it dried it stayed a bright thick red which was extra ridiculous. It looked like strawberry jam.
One perplexing part was the whole scene between Dorian, Mariella and Rolf. She seduces Dorian in the limo while Rolf is supposed to be asleep, but he isn't. Dorian then goes back to Germany with them. Dorian continues to sleep with Mariella while Rolf watches by camera for years we are told. Then one day he tells Mariella that it is over and shows her and Dorian the footage. Was he tired of watching her? Was he just messing with her mind by saying there is nothing you can possess which he can't take away? Did she and Dorian really think he could move in with them and no one would suspect anything? What else would happen when you bring an unemployed pretty boy into your house? This was the one big scene of Dorian out on his own, yet it was confusing in its meaning.
Nitpicks aside this was a great film and a role that Malcolm was born to play. If you think that is pushing it then it is a role he has perfected. Malcolm narrated or has the narrative voice throughout which like ACO, Gangster No. 1 and The Barber means it is an extra special film. I would love to see Malcolm do this play live on Broadway. It is a near perfect film and it is a real shame that films like this and Assassin of the Tsar don't get proper big screen releases so the masses can see how great an actor he is. Instead they are made, almost forgotten and barely released in small markets around the world. It is also fun to see Malcolm as a photographer. He grabs the camera and shoots madly, like a pro. The only problem was that it was too short. I could've gone for more of everything. More sex, violence, evil, addiction, affliction - you name it. Henry says Dorian went to the depths of hell. Oh yeah? let's really see it. Show how that lifestyle can destroy a person.
This page © 2002-08 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net