“Fifty Shades of Rape Culture,” “Fifty Shades of WTF,” these are just two of the many, many titles I read about the ubiquitous big screen adaptation of the best-selling 2012 novel of the same name by E.L. James.
Starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of shy and timid Anastasia Steele, an English Literature major (haha, represent!) sent to interview young and handsome business mogul Christian Grey, and the subsequent relationship that ensues. The film also attempts to explore BDSM, a form of sexual role play involving a submissive — the partner who willingly subjects themself to the control of the other — and a dominant — the partner who exercises control over the submissive while having sex.
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), the two hour film does well to elevate the shitty content of the book, but fails to entertain as a film, too.
The premise itself is admittedly intriguing. It’s a subject not many people would write about, so props to E.L. James for regailing us with her adolescent sexual fantasies. I say props quite lightly.
Following a strenuous search for the lead characters, the roles were finally given to Johnson and Dornan, both of whom deliver lackluster and underwhelming performances.
Johnson tries to come off as an inexperienced and innocent goody-two-shoes with a job at the hardware store and a 4.0 GPA (that was shoved down the viewers’ throats early on in the movie. Anastasia argues that although she’s not good with directions, her ability to form an eloquent sentence will most definitely help her with directions. Ya benti, I hold the same GPA and still can’t get from my house to my university. Just be proud of the fact that you’re geographically challenged like the rest of us); your typical girl next door. Except Johnson looks as far away from innocence as you can get. I’m not criticising her acting (ha! Yet), but the girl just doesn’t look innocent per se.
Other than how she looks, her acting wasn’t that great. She was way too passive and bland in most scenes, and looked like an excited puppy during the sex scenes. It’s BDSM. You aren’t supposed to be this damn happy.
As for the actual nature of the character, her personality, what an annoying little whiner she was. Okay first, what is with the stupid lip curl? Is that supposed to be sexy or were you stung by something? Second, English Literature majors are not all romantics. Don’t generalize. And speaking of school, what the heck happened to all those exams you had when the movie started, the ones you barely had time to study for? Third, you’re a reporter, what’s with the generic buzzfeed questions you were asking? And finally, English majors are NOT ALL ROMANTICS. WHY ARE THEY EVEN ASSOCIATED?
As for Dornan, the debate is slightly more interesting. The actor displays the cheeky attitude that Mr. Grey is due, but again fails where it counts most. For one thing, physically speaking, he lacks the ruggedness of Mr. Grey — as he is portrayed in the books (haven’t read them. Never will, but this much I know). However, perhaps the biggest flaw about Dornan‘s performance was how apologetic it was. A dominant is not supposed to look so sorry when he does his bidding. Props to the man’s evidebt values (word is he kept apologising to Johnson after every scene), but you knew what you were getting yourself into, and so was she. In that aspect, Dornan disappoints.
The problem with Fifty Shades of Grey is that it’s chock-full of complete misrepresentations. I won’t venture into an endless critique of the film’s source material, for we all know its role in perpetuating rape and abuse. When it comes to the film itself, E.L. James demonstrates her lack of knowledge in all things BDSM. Taylor-Johnson and the screenwriters do what they can, but James‘s lack of cooperation was ultimately the downfall of the film.
The movie was a bit of a turn-off because of the lack of chemistry between the cast. You’re making a movie about exploring sex, at least pick two people who look like they like each other.
The screenplay is horrific. It’s without any doubt the worst script of any movie I’ve seen this year. The whole thing is just a big, creamy (yes, I went there) cake of total and utter cliché. The weak, innocent girl falling for the mysterious and troubled young billionaire; him wisking her away in his helicopter that he, of course, pilots all by himself, the touching at the dinner table, all conveyed with preconceivable words that are as shallow as can be. It’s one thing for a movie to be predictable, but when a script is so predictable I recite the lines with the characters, then you know how much of a shitter you have. “Fifty shades of fucked up,” “The Red Room of Pain?” Really? That the best you can do? Original.
All things aside, the movie did also have some good elements. For one thing, the soundtrack was great, especially the Beyoncé songs (obviously). They were very fitting, and put you in the exact mood you needed to be to watch the movie.
Another good element was the setting. Christian’s appartment was everything you imagined it would be and more. It had the slick smoothness to it that I found adequate.
All in all, a fairly interesting premise was destroyed by cheap directing, an unbearably fugly script, and terrible acting. With the book being what it is, I’m quite certain you can go on living your entire life without seeing this. If you want a film that truly explores boundaries, I suggest checking out Blue Is The Warmest Color instead.
Image Sources: imdb.com, variety.com, eonline.com, romancemeetslife.com, pinterest.com
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