When the handsome and naive Dorian (Barnes) arrives in Victorian London, he befriends the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton (Firth), who introduces him to a world of excess. For Henry, the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and fulfillment of the senses, views he imparts to Dorian together with a good deal of flattery.
Women are enamoured of Dorian’s youthful countenance, but so is artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), a friend of Henry’s who paints Dorian’s portrait, aiming to capture all the power and allure of physical beauty. Overtaken with his own vanity, Dorian decides he would rather sell his soul than see himself age another day. Soon after, just such a deal presents itself, with the stipulation that every sin marked upon his soul would render itself visible on Basil’s painting. Disregarding consequences, Dorian descends into debauchery. He seduces the beautiful performer Sibyl Vane (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and then abandons her. He woos a host of stunning women, attends erotically charged costume parties and indulges in whatever fancy suits his whim. Yet Dorian is continually haunted by the true nature of his appearance. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]