Well of course it had to get the Hollywood treatment!
Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2015 adaptation of the controversial erotica novel of the same name by E.L. James. It's directed by Sam-Taylor Johnson and stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Let's say that you have seen Fifty Shades of Grey: The Movie or have read Fifty Shades of Grey: The Book. Saying yes to either watching the former or reading the latter (or both) falls in line with one of those guilty admissions that people might either laugh at or question you for. I compare this guilt to something like a bad night of bar hopping. You though it would be fun and worthwhile, but you know you are going to hate yourself later. I did not see this film in theaters, and I'm glad I didn't because I might have had to saw my arm off if I gave these people any of my money.
Somehow, the movie just happened to sucker in enough people to make a whopping $571 million which gave the upcoming sequels the greenlight. Is a BDSM relationship that undeniably emphasizes misogyny and abuse really that appealing? Or was it the fact that E.L. James developed the story from Twilight fan fiction?
Alright, so before I go off on too much of a tirade, here's what Fifty Shades of Grey is about: English literature major Anastasia Steele volunteers for a friend to go and interview the wealthy business magnate Christian Grey for her college newspaper. Grey instantly gets the hots for Ana, and begins to make his way into her life. The two soon start to see one another, which eventually leads to Christian asking Ana to sign a contract stating that she cannot reveal secret details of their relationship. The contract also contains guidelines discussing the various sex tools and bondage materials that Christian is and is not allowed to use when the two get intimate.
No matter what way I look at it, I cannot make heads or tails about the supposed romantic connection between Ana and Christian. Part of me wants to believe that E.L. James is actually trying to give us a black outlook of the painful consequences of the Sexual Revolution. Too many men now see women as play things and have a perverted desire to control them. That's something I can work with. But then you throw in the fact that Ana voluntarily takes part in Christian's backward activities, until she later hates him for it, and then she goes back to loving him, and then hating, and then loving...
- The film looks somewhat nice judging by its cinematography. Scenes are well lit and camera angles are carefully designed to give the film an appealing visual look.
- Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan got their respective Worst Acting Razzies, but I can say they at least tried. Neither gives a completely half-hearted effort, even though there is a lack of convincing chemistry. Dornan does well displaying Grey as an all-the-time professional instead of slimy and bratty. Johnson does the best she can with a character that is nonsensically written beyond belief.
- I could write an at least 100 page book about why this relationship between Ana and Grey makes little to no sense. The whole kinky bondage gimmick is not the sole culprit, though it does play a major role. Christian makes clear that he desires sex and sadistic pleasure ("I don't make love. I fuck....hard"), and for whatever reason, Ana goes along with it. Is it just because she's a virgin? This girl is clearly not, at least, somewhat aware in the area of wild and unusual sex behavior, asking questions such as, "What are butt-plugs?" I would think 8 out of 10 college students today would admit to having at least heard of butt-plugs. A game of Cards Against Humanity might do her some good. Wait, is she seriously about to graduate from college not ever having played or viewed one freaking game of CAH? The game did come out the same year as the novel!
There's no clear-cut way to define what these two want as a couple and how they can achieve it. Christian is straight-forward: he wants to be the dominant figure in a sexual relationship and wants to have everything laid out in a contract. Ana, however, is a never-ending puzzle. She buys into all of Christian's malevolent wants, until he decides to punish her (by spanking her six times while she counts up to six). You would think she would flee to the nearest safe haven, but she decides to stay at his apartment! The list of confusions and headaches that she causes just go on and on!
- With all of the sex and relationship sludge aside, the film is noticeably slow, taking well over a half hour before any of the things that you really came to see actually start to happen. Even when the stuff that you came for kicks into gear, the movie drags its feet across the floor without much of a desire to pick up. The last hour of the film, not including the "sexy" parts, is composed of little substance other than Ana and Christian getting frustrated with one another, with Christian trying to make their "love" more romantic by taking her flying and doing other petty activities with her.
I cannot fathom much of anything in Fifty Shades of Grey. I guess it really did teach me that sex sells, a lot. Hollywood got googly dollar signs in their eyes when they realized how controversial and wide-selling the novel was, and, sadly, they brought in big bucks. Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are one of the most crass and deplorable couples that I have ever seen on screen. It's a shame, because it was a waste of some nice cinematography and passable acting.
Recommend? No. Not at all.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: