There’s nothing “enlightening” about the long anticipated mommy-porn novel turned feature film, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
A boring script, beautiful cinematography, acceptable acting and sold out theaters made this film the blockbuster hit of the 2015 Valentine’s Day weekend. Expecting to make over $60 million in it’s four day opening weekend, it’s proof that sex sells, no matter how disappointing it seems.
Based on the best-selling erotica novel by the same name, “Fifty Shades of Grey” tells the story of innocent college senior Anastasia Steele who crosses paths with the young mysterious billionaire Christian Grey. Grey, who is hiding his secret obsession with BDSM short for Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism becomes overly attentive to the young, clumsy, beautiful student. Complicated emotions and power complexes make for a difficult and steamy tryst between the two.
Commentary and criticisms of the film and book have been mixed. Sex experts, women’s rights advocates, psychologists and family groups have spoken out against the film claiming it glorifies abuse and depicts an unhealthy relationship between a man who uses his wealth and influence to take advantage of a vulnerable woman. The character does openly admit that Ana’s behavior makes his “palms twitch” and he refuses to disclose why he likes inflicting excruciating pain over her, except only that he receives some sort of relief.
Despite the content, the film does exceed in certain areas. Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography is absolutely stunning. The sweeping shots of Seattle, Grey’s apartment, including the infamous “red room of pain”, are beautiful and bring a semblance of dignity and professionalism to the screen.
Unfortunately the film falls apart in multiple places. Jamie Dornan’s depiction of the mysterious billionaire comes across as awkward and flat. His delivery of Grey’s signature line “laters, baby” are just cringe worthy. While other lines, that attempt to distinguish Grey’s intellect, come off as extremely creepy. Though it should be noted that Dornan’s physique is on point. It seems as though the costume department hasn’t figured out Grey’s casual look yet. If Grey wasn’t in a sharp Italian suit or sweaty workout clothing, his sweater and jeans combo portray him as a dull history teacher and not a desired playboy.
Dakota Johnson, as Anastasia Steele, was quite fantastic in the role and completely diminishes the idea of a role originally written with the image of Kristen Stewart in mind. She brings a character that was one-dimensional on page, to life on screen. Johnson’s sassy Ana isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and seems to be taking in and thinking about every action Christian makes. She’s witty and trusting, but does not hesitate to call out the peculiar billionaire on his inconsistent and confusing habits.
When it comes to the sex, one could note that Johnson’s breasts deserve their own credit for how much screen time they receive. The supposedly steamy scenes are nothing more than slow stripping, heavily edited shots of Dornan thrusting and slow shots of Johnson breathing and tossing her head back and forth while heaving her chest and squirming her legs.
And while Christian’s BDSM playroom is shown a few times, the only items he uses to “punish” Ana are nothing more than some light play with a leather flogger, a few whips with a riding crop, some handcuffs, a blindfold, a tie and a belt. (no, not all at the same time).
The screenplay written by Kelly Marcel (“Terra Nova”,”Saving Mr. Banks”) is awkward with a few high points. The first 20 minutes seem so rushed and little to no deep character exposition happens. It just feels like a race to get to the disappointing sex scenes. It’s as if Marcel took only highlights from the book and threw together a half-way finished script. One can only hope if something is to be done on the pending sequels it’s that Marcel is replaced.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is quite boring and predictable, with the ending leaving audiences extremely disappointed. The film feels as though it just happened. No exposition, no climax, no resolution … it’s just there. And sure, it’s a break from the typical Nicholas Sparks romance, but it’s still unclear if a BDSM “Twilight” fan fiction novel is what was needed to change up the game.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is rated R.