Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Release Date: 13th February 2015 (UK)
When it was announced that E. L. James’ bestselling erotic novel was being adapted into a film, there were mixed reactions. Fans of the book seemed inexplicably excited, while anyone who knows anything expected a car crash. You can tell where this is going.
Fifty Shades of Grey is the simple story of one man, one woman and one all-consuming fetish. As their relationship develops, Christian Grey’s lifestyle choice (we’ll call it that) challenges the innocent Anastasia Steele and pushes her to breaking point. Ultimately, will it be too much, and will their relationship last? Frankly, I don’t give a damn.
The film, probably like the book, is graphic and overly sexual for the sake of shock value. Had this been a story about a guy who still suffers from the abuse he suffered as a child, and his subsequent inability to connect with other people and hold down a relationship, then Fifty Shades of Grey could have been a very compelling drama. Instead it plays down the most valuable part of the plot in favor of prolonged sadomasochistic sequences that do nothing for plot nor penis. It’s an entirely self-important film, inherited from a wholly shambolic book which exists to cash in on curious bored women.
In Dakota Johnson the film found its Anastasia. She carries a pale-skinned innocence befitting of her character, though making her a virgin was somewhat far-fetched, making her acceptance of Grey’s hobby completely implausible. In fact, she never really endorsed it so quite why the film lasted any longer than her looking in the playroom and fleeing in tears is a mystery. While Jamie Dornan is Grey, with a brooding Christian Bale look about him but definitely too young to play a guy who runs his own empire and carries himself with the swagger of someone twice his age. Maybe that’s the point, but much like everything else in this dire catastrophe of a movie it didn’t work.
Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most overrated, under-criticised and over-hyped movies of the past decade, with oodles of gratuitous sex that only serves to humiliate its cast, who will look back (if they haven’t already) with nothing but irreparable shame and self-scorn. Johnson and Dornan can do better, so please, follow the example of your misguided albeit enlightened director and run as fast as you can from this truly despicable franchise.