Film Review - Fifty Shades of Grey
Starring: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Luke Grimes, Max Martini
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Written By: Kelly Marcel, E.L James
THIS YEAR'S most anticipated film based on E.L James adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey hit our cinemas on Valentine’s eve. After selling over 100 million copies of the book, the film smashed the box office over the weekend pulling in over £161 million worldwide. This film had a ready-made audience with millions of fans pre-booking tickets if only out of curiousity.
When college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, The Five Year Engagement & 21 Jump Street) steps in for her unwell roommate to interview suave billionaire businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, The Fall) for their college paper, little does she realise the path her life will take. Christian finds himself strangely drawn to Ana, and she to him. Ana who is sexually inexperienced, is lured into a masochistic relationship with Grey and learns that Christian's tormented past leaves him consumed by the need to control everything.
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, I would have to say there was definitely more talent behind the camera than in front of it. Having read the first book, I was expecting the film to end abruptly, which it did. However, I have watched enough movies to learn that an audience needs a bit of time to learn and actually care about the characters in the story for it to have any impact. Within the first five minutes of the film, Ana is already in Christian Grey's office doing her interview. There was no build-up or background, so in my opinion, if you haven't read the book, then don't go and see this film.
Anyone who has read the book, needs no introduction, but I think a slight build-up of seeing the characters act out their day-to-day lives without each other would have been a better start. Instead, the audience is thrown into watching Johnson acting out a silly naive girl who falls through the office door when told, 'Mr Grey will see you now...' while Dornan stares at Johnson with his sultry grins which, to be honest, was giving me the creeps rather than turn me on! This ultimately sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The ultimate hype raised the question of whether this film borderlined between consenual B.D.S.M or abuse. The only discomfort I felt in watching this film was the total lack of chemistry between Johnson and Dornan. It was, in parts, just plain awkward to watch and certainly not because of the alleged abundant nudity (if looking at Dakota Johnson's boobs for 2 hours qualifies as that!). The audience actually sees very little of the goings on in Grey's 'playroom' and more of Grey trying to control Ana's life outside of the bedroom.
The film is consistently straining itself to create any heat, even wa brilliant soundtrack throughout (which includes Ellie Goulding and Beyonce) made both actors seem even more out of their depth. Taylor-Johnson uses helicopter and plane rides to exert some kind of exhilaration in the film which is about the height of the stimulation! Plus Dakota Johnson's method of promoting excitement and sensuality consisted of her biting her bottom lip! Exciting stuff!
On a more positive note, this film had a bit of genuine comedy. Grey first introduces Steele to his sexual antics by stating, 'I want to show you my playroom.' Steele responds with 'Oh so is this where you keep your X-Box and stuff?' It’s no great secret that Christian Grey's character is mentally ill, however, in one particular scene, where he is opening up about his past and tells Steele that he is 'Fifty shades of f@cked up' while moroseley starring out of a window, had the audience in fits laughing which I don’t think was meant to be the desired effect that Taylor-Johnson had in mind.
I think most people will be going to see this film out of hype and curiosity. I have to say that even though I was disappointed with this film, I want to see the next instalment only in the hope that the relationship between the characters becomes more engaging. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I left the cinema scratching my head thinking what the hell was all that hype about? It was somewhat enjoyable when I was laughing at it's ridiculous one-liners and cringey so-called sex scenes – but to be frank, this film was embarrassing if this is the quality of scriptwriting and acting that makes a modern day blockbuster.