St. Vincent is giving this iconic novel a feminist film makeover

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Amy Swales
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Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is getting a new film adaptation – one that will be directed by Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent.

But even if you didn’t know that the musician was also a film-maker, that isn’t the most surprising fact about the horror-drama project – she’s decided to hire a rather unexpected lead star.

Variety reports that Clark will be mixing up the story by casting a woman as titular character Gray.

With studies showing the gender divide in Hollywood so pronounced that female actors get approximately half as many lines as their male counterparts, are often given characters with little to no effect on the plot and tend to be younger than their male co-stars, a woman being handed a traditionally male lead role by a female director feels like a film win.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, a magazine story that was published as a book in 1891, is the tale of a hedonistic charmer who makes a deal to stay young and flawless. In exchange, a full-size portrait of him changes and fades over time to reflect his various misdeeds.

Clark made her directorial debut earlier this year with a chapter in horror anthology XX at Sundance Film Festival.

So far, there’s been no further information on expected production dates or she’ll approach the project, but speaking to Billboard in January, she said though horror had never been her passion, she was attracted to the absurdity of black comedy.

“I never saw myself even seeing a horror film. I can’t watch them, because everything disgusting or violent just gets seared into my retinas […] But it was very amazing when I got asked to direct [XX]. Surprisingly, I had the best time […]

“Though I don’t do well with blood and guts and gore, I love things that are absurd. Comedy and horror actually have a lot in common, like the tension between the setup and the punchline. That dynamic is something I certainly include in my music.”

The script for the latest big-screen adaptation of the book will be written by David Birke (Elle, Slenderman). Previous incarnations include a 1945 film starring Angela Lansbury as Sibyl Vane (a singer left heartbroken by Gray), for which she earned an Oscar nomination. More recently, a 2009 version starring Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Colin Firth received mixed reviews.

Image: Rex Features


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.