Fifty Shades of Grey, 2015
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, and Victor Rasuk.
Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.
Not even five minutes into Fifty Shades of Grey is a scene where Anastasia Steele trips and falls entering Christian Grey’s fancy meeting room, and it just has to be symbolic that this entire movie will unravel as a disaster of cataclysmic proportions. Within a matter of minutes the ravishingly young rich business magnate becomes inexplicably fascinated with the young socially awkward college graduate. And that right there is the biggest problem in a film that has multiple crippling flaws; none of this erotic romance feels natural, plausible, or mentally healthy.
From a behavioral standpoint, it’s actually appalling that some women find a film that glorifies submissiveness and pseudo-rape empowering and something worth fantasizing about. All movies need a character with a plight to invest in and root for, whether it’s a goodie two-shoes protagonist or a gripping anti-hero, yet here any attempt at constructing even the most basic narrative is absent. Fifty Shades of Grey is just two hours of one girl experimenting all sorts of sordid sexual activity with a corrupted mind that repeatedly states he doesn’t enjoy love, but rather dominance and abusive control.
If the movie actively tried to explore Grey’s mental deficiencies (occasionally it does but every time it is just a one line in passing that is never expanded on) and paint the picture of a man truly broken on the inside in need of healing, maybe it would be easier to buy into Anna’s sympathies. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t because Jamie Dornan can’t even property deliver the minimal emotional dialogue that does exist without sounding like a robot. The story is simply far too concerned with going from sex scene to scene instead of doing something that would make audiences care.
Speaking of those, for a movie that is based on an erotic novel that steamrolled to mainstream adoration because of its kinkiness, the adaptation is tame and safe with its depiction of Grey’s fun. Many of the more risqué scenes are outright cut from the book, leaving us with a litany of monotonous sex scenes that all just boil down to Anna getting tied up and spanked with something. Essentially, if the core demographic is coming out in droves for titillation, they’re probably going to be leaving extremely disappointed. Jamie Dornan doesn’t even show his dinker donker but Dakota Johnson is admirably game to bear all. If anything the movie is more stimulating for men with the hots for Dakota.
Realistically though, it is a given that the narrative to Fifty Shades of Grey would be complete trash considering the novel started out as Twilight fan-fiction, but how the absurdity would actually translate to the screen though was always going to be an interesting discovery. Basically, that too is a mess since the script is abysmally bad, filled with Shakespearean dialogue such as “I won’t touch you until I have your written consent”, and “I don’t make love, I f***… HARD”. Worse is that the the acting from everyone involved is played deadly serious, also coming across unintentionally hilarious. The comical aspect quickly dissipates too though, as the movie descends into relentless boredom.
What’s baffling is that despite how horrific everything else is, the movie does have some imaginative set design for Grey’s office and penthouse, decorating the rooms with various art-deco paintings, a piano, beautiful white walls juxtaposed with black floor tiling, and more. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson also isn’t afraid to get creative, tinting different scenes with color. Nudity isn’t the only pleasant sight here, as Fifty Shades of Grey is actually directed with competence and is nice to look at.
You can credit Sam Taylor-Johnson for not taking the easy paycheck and giving her all to inject some life into this abomination, but at the end of the day she was tasked with adapting shallow trash. You can polish a turd gold but you can’t remove the smell.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. He currently writes for Flickering Myth, We Got This Covered, and Wrestle Enigma. Follow me on Twitter.
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