As soft porn, interspersed with a weak plot and mediocre acting, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, is an improvement over the book – which is not saying much. Despite the promise of risque action scenes, the audience was left checking watches for most of the 125 minute film.
E.L. James’ bestselling mommy-porn novel was adapted for screen by Kelly Marcel, and produced by Sam Taylor-Johnson. The novel was originally posted as fan fiction to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and the parallels between the two books are obvious. The male lead is transformed from vampire Edward Cullen to kinky multi-millionaire CEO control freak Christian Grey, but the female leads are remarkably similar, despite the slight age difference. Both Anastasia and Bella are very ordinary girls with long brown hair and mousy personalities; they are uncoordinated, and intelligent women who somehow manage to attract men for no apparent reason.
The first scene of the movie is littered with blatant sexual innuendos. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) conducts an interview with powerful young CEO Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) in place of her roommate who has come down with the flu. After literally falling into his office, Ana, outfitted in what could be her grandmother’s floral blouse, is intimidated by Christian’s beautiful staff and powerful demeanor. Christian lends her a pencil; then, in a not so subtle gesture, she begins sucking the eraser. After leaving his building, Ana pauses in the pouring rain, another unsubtle clue as to her depth of infatuation.
As the movie progresses, Christian proves himself to be quite the stalker. He shows up at Ana’s workplace, rescues her from the drunken advances of one of her many admirers, and even follows her on a visit with her mother in Georgia. Ana battles her lust for Christian with actual common sense – that he a sadistic stalker. He convinces her to partake in his lifestyle choices, which eventually backfires. The movie ends on a huge cliffhanger – clearly designed to bring viewers back for the next movie development, Fifty Shades Darker, scheduled for release in 2016.
This movie raised several questions. First, how could a college student living in Washington not have a single appropriate interview outfit? Was she unable to borrow clothes from her prettier and better dressed friend? Second, why is a powerful man like Christian attracted to boring, plain Ana? One of the most infuriating qualities of Ana is her inability to say anything original. Over and over she is presented with a scenario and states the blatantly obvious.
Johnson plays the part of Ana fabulously and adds to the character portrayed in the book; she is cute and sexier with a stronger personality. Dornan, on the other hand, fails to do Christian Grey credit. His perfectly toned body and excellent hair were unable to compensate for the dull and unsatisfying delivery. His one-dimensional acting failed to show any of the “fifty shades” of the troubled, controlling dominant.
Moreover, The movie radically toned down the graphic BDSM sex scenes from the book, in an attempt to appease the suburban mom demographic, but failed to capture the main pull factor of the book – allowing the reader to escape into the oblique female lead and experience secondhand “mindblowing” sex with a billionare. This left the movie as sort of an unconvincing blend of romance and kinky sex behind the doors of the “red room of pain”.
On the plus side, the cinematography showed off the beautiful scenery of Washington, and after the almost comically bad writing of the novel, the script far exceeded readers expectations.
The main criticism to Fifty Shades of Grey came from the middle-aged demographic who were concerned that the movie was promoting the wrong relationship values to younger generations. Luckily their concerns are unfounded, no one watching this movie could possibly related this twisted romance to a real-life scenario.
~madeleine lohr, staff reporter