Opening 12 Feb 2015
Based on the best-selling erotic novel of the same name by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey follows the tumultuous sexual relationship of a naïve young college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and the young, tortured billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Despite being drawn to each other, Ana is hesitant as she learns of Christian’s controlling nature and dark sexual desires.
This is one hyped up movie. As it is based on a wildly popular book trilogy, there were high expectations from the general public, but unfortunately Fifty Shades of Grey fails to deliver. The screenwriting is laughably bad, there is very little chemistry between the actors, and the sex scenes, which are probably the most important aspect of an erotic film, are tame and boring. Some light spanking, handcuffs, and missionary sex aren’t particularly shocking considering it’s supposed to be heavy on the BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, and Masochism). In general, the sex is very underutilized and watered down, and all that is left is 125 minutes of laughably bad interactions between two cardboard cutout characters.
There has been much industry talk about arguments behind the scenes, especially between director Sam Taylor-Johnson and author E.L. James, with James calling for the film to be as close to the novel as possible, much to the annoyance of Taylor-Johnson. Perhaps it is this conflict that stifled any sexual intensity in the film, or maybe the source material is just so bad that there never was any hope to begin with. The novel is not known for being particularly well-written and to watch some of this uncomfortably bad dialogue being spoken aloud certainly caused more than a few chuckles in the audience. At points, it almost seems as though the film starts to slide towards parody as the situations and actions of the characters become so ridiculous that it feels like a big joke. Maybe that is not far from the truth, as everyone involved in this production will be laughing their way to the bank as the people who loved the book and those who are just curious will undoubtedly flock to the cinemas regardless of what any critic says to try and assuage them. (Rose Finlay)