- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

HOUMA, La. (AP) - After decades of hearing himself compared to the protagonist in “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” actor and producer Dorian Dardar is turning the story on its head for his third indie film.

Dardar, 32, is the star of “The Picture of Dorian Dardar,” which he began filming in late October.

Oscar Wilde’s novel, first published in 1891, is about a hedonist and narcissist who sells his soul to keep himself handsome forever. That sale is only one among a number of grave sins Gray commits. Although he appears as young and beautiful as ever, his oil portrait reflects his true self - ugly and repulsive. Finally, he slashes the portrait, killing himself.

“Every person I meet, they reference (the book),” Dardar said. “(Gray) is a very beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, but at the same time, he is selfish and not good for the community. As opposed to that, I wanted there to be a strong juxtaposition or opposition in my film.”

So Dardar’s story is a comedy. Rather than a dissolute person who sets his own lusts and pleasures as life’s goal, the protagonist is a Zen master seeking a way to earn a living.

“He wants to make people laugh,” Dardar said about the main character. “He’s out to heal the world by putting a smile on people’s faces. He’s a man who lives in a world that is always tragic, but he denies the world of tragedy by seeking to gratify others. People mistake him for being foolish and childish, but he knows who he is and is happy with who he is.”

He advertises Zen lessons and meets Tara, a young woman who is new to town and looking to find her place. They become close.

Tara is played by Manon Pages, lead actress and a 24-year-old French native. Pages, who was born in Paris and grew up in Normandy, moved to New Orleans four years ago to work as a nanny and pursue her acting career.

Dardar and Pages, who now lives in Thibodaux, connected on Facebook. They met for the first time on Oct. 31, the first day of shooting, at the Gray Library.

“(My character) is alone; she just moved to a new town and tries to find people to be with,” Pages said. “She’s kind of like me, so it’s easy to jump into that character because that’s how I felt four years ago when I moved here.”

With virtually no budget to work with, Dardar relies on volunteer work by crew and cast members like Pages. To eliminate unnecessary costs, Dadar said he is currently “carrying all the hats” as lead actor, cinematographer, director and producer.

Once the film is complete, Dardar plans to self-distribute it through Amazon, as he has two previous low-budget films.

“Just Another Noir,” which premiered in November 2011 at Le Bijou Theater on the Nicholls State University campus in Thibodaux, was written as a film noir, or film imitating 1940s and 1950s Hollywood crime dramas.

Dardar also was a supporting actor, cinematographer, director and producer for his 2013 film “The Legend of Industrial Ghost-Wolf,” about a police chief who is determined to understand and solve the mystery behind several recent attacks on local people.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com


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