I hardly know where to start describing just how bad this movie is. First I will say that the movie, especially the first half, feels terribly choppy and rushed. The relationship between Dorian and Sybil, for example, from initial meeting to marriage proposal, to break-up and suicide is covered in the space of TWELVE MINUTES. This is including the scenes in between in which she is not involved. The director probably could've put a montage of them running through tall grass and painting each other with paint rollers while giggling merrily and it would've done a better job of establishing this relationship in believable fashion.
I feel like the director just wanted to get it out of the way so that he could spend as much time on the lurid details of Dorian's life as possible.
Director: What? I have to provide an explanation? OK here goes...
Dorian: hi I'm Dorian want to get married?
Sybil: yeah sure
**2 days later**
Sybil: you slept with a whore! I'm going to kill myself!
Director: OK now that that boring storyline garbage is out of the way I can get to the S&M sex montages, murders, and a painting that actually GROWLS AND HISSES.
Which brings me to my next problem with the movie; the cheesiness and unbelievably heavy-handed symbolism. The first time that we actually see a heavily altered version of the painting hidden up in the attic, the camera zooms in on the painting and yes, it actually hisses at the audience. I feel that this is a massive cop-out on an attempt to create a frightening and tense atmosphere. It is as if the director was unable to use lighting, shot framing, scenery, etc. effectively to create the atmosphere which he desired, and decided instead to have a ghost pop up on screen and yell "BOO!" at the audience to startle them into a state of fright.
The symbolism is something I would expect to see from a first year film student. The montage of S&M sex scenes inter-spliced with scenes of Dorian spreading jam on a biscuit made me burst out laughing. Possibly the most obtuse symbolism I've ever seen in a movie takes place when Dorian seduces Hallward at his party while some kind of sexually charged African drum dance involving a large snake takes place downstairs. That's right, snakes look kind of like a penis, and they're representative of sin! BAM! Double the symbolism! I was so convinced in the final scene where Lord Henry speaks to the painting that it was going to blink or start crying, I'm sure someone talked the director out of that one. I wouldn't even have been surprised to see a caption saying "Dorian is in the painting" with an arrow pointing to it.
A great deal of Oscar Wilde's sharp wit is cut from the story, and what does remain I would call the most redeeming factor of the whole movie. There are still a small handful of wonderful Wilde quotes that will have you laughing and thinking, but you can save yourself the trouble of viewing this travesty.