It’s a good thing I did not buy my ticket for “Fifty Shades of Grey” expecting to be wowed by excellent cinematography, acting, and an artfully constructed story. If you are looking for these things, do not waste your time with this movie. The presence of BDSM sex and fairly prolific nudity were the only things separating the film from a run of the mill melodramatic love story.
The film was adapted from the bestselling novel by E.L. James, which was originally published online as “Twilight” fan fiction. It gained notoriety for its detailed sex scenes involving Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a recent college grad and English lit major, and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a brooding billionaire in his 20s who “doesn’t do romance,” but is partial to kinky sex. My guess is the promise of these steamy prop-filled sex scenes is what drew many people to the theaters, but they were not very different from what you would find in a typical R-rated movie (again, with the exception of the handcuffs, whips and other accessories).
What the film lacked in pornographic content it made up for in atrocious dialog (both in content and delivery). “Christian!” “Ana!” The characters say on two separate occasions, glaring meaningfully towards each other as the elevator door closes. There is never a shortage of overdone angst, Ana often exclaiming that she wants to touch Christian and wondering why won’t he just let her in. His flat and clichéd responses including “I had a rough start in life” and “It’s just the way I am” left me resoundingly unimpressed.
Though I, and many others, have plenty of negative things to say about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” we should not dismiss it. The film, like the novel, has the potential to provide its audience with an escape. We are drawn into an almost-but-not-quite-fantasy world full of glamour and intensity, reminiscent of “The Great Gatsby.”
Dozens of fast cars, glass penthouses and helicopters are all part of Christian Grey’s every day existence and despite the cliche and predictable rhythm that the film often fell into, it was hard not to get a little bit swept away. The film was also directed and adapted by women, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Kelly Marcel respectively, which is noteworthy due to the rarity of females in prominent film-production positions. I also very much enjoyed the soundtrack that featured Beyoncé, Sia, and The Rolling Stones among others.