Synopsis – Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.
My Take – Even at the height of its popularity (especially when the 1st edition came out), I just knew Hollywood would not keep their hands of this one, no matter how ridiculous the whole concept is. I guess this is where I should admit that I haven’t read the book so this review won’t be comparing the two or complaining about what the movie did or didn’t do from the book. No, this review is just going to be based around the actual movie and for the life of me I can’t see what all the hype is about. This E.L. James erotic best seller was actually conceived as a Twilight fan story, I cant even begin to imagine the level of atrocity that would have given birth to if the idea was picked up in the original over hyped mediocre Twilight series. Anyways lets gets to the plot, The story follows Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a depressingly ordinary college girl, who goes through life without many close friends outside her roommate leads an existence of convention and routine. This changes when her roommate asks her to interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), an elusive, single billionaire who’s consistent protection of his private life has warranted great question. From the moment she sees him, Anastasia is smitten with everything about him because he is everything she isn’t: bold, confident, unafraid, and suave. One can tell just from the way Christian looks and speaks to Anastasia, having great patience and acceptance with her that he admires her for her own traits as well: she’s simple, frightened, vulnerable, and just the kind of girl he’s looking for.
The two quietly hit it off, with Christian requesting simple things like coffee outings and simple hangouts before going through one of his many periods of being standoffish and confusing to Anastasia. Eventually, he reveals his motives; he’s looking for a sexual relationship with no commitments and no conventionality in terms of going on dates. He wants sex and he wants it his way, proposing a contract to Anastasia in hopes she will become the submissive to his dominant, in which she’ll stay at his spacious penthouse on weekends to engage in wild sexual escapades. Yup! this is the plot of an actual movie, not your usual porn production from Digital Playground or Naughty America, people actually invested in this movie! There are all sorts of major issues with the film, we can start with the laughable screenplay, which would have been rejected by the Lifetime channel and in fact, I’m going to guess that it would have been rejected has a five-year-old written it. The dialogue is without question some of the most laughable I’ve heard in a very long time. In fact, the movie seems to be lost in what decade it is because there are times that the “F” word is used and it’s used in a way to where it’s supposed to be shocking. Really? It’s going to take more than that. The entire character development between the two lead characters is another joke and after a while you really can’t buy into any of the melodrama and you’ve just got to sit back and laugh. Yet another problem is that the film just isn’t erotic. Films like Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, 8mm are just a few examples that qualify as erotic films. A lot of the lack of erotic-ness has to be blamed on the director who just seems to have been the wrong fit for the material. Nothing from the erotic nature to the serious stuff works and everything is poorly edited. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan fit their roles pretty well, they are good looking & awkward (I guess that’s how they are supposed to be).
However, the two completely lack any kind of chemistry together. Like I mentioned above the plot was originally meant to be Twiligth fan fiction, we cant help but notice the similarities between the lead protagonists (in comparison to the very boring Edward & Bella). Maybe that’s intentional, again alluding to Grey’s refusal to make this a relationship of any conventionality, but it’s difficult to get wrapped up in the sex scenes when both parties seem disinterested in one another and bored. Furthermore, the acting of the two leads varies from acceptable to incredibly poor and contrived. On the whole ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ may go down as one of the most poorly-written films of the film year in terms of having singular lines of dialog that are capable of producing unintentional laughs and sneers. Combine the elements of bad dialog with unremarkable sex scenes and an an overall idiotic portrayal of a sex subculture, and you have a film that flat-lines where it should have stunned & entertained. Just as Mr Gray had said “This is fifty shades of f****d up”!
Director – Sam Taylor-Johnson
Rated – R
Run Time – 125 minutes