Film Review: 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'
Opened: 14 February 2015
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Producers: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E. L. James
I won't lie. I enjoyed Fifty Shades Of Grey. With often cringeworthy dialogue (sample: “I would like to f--k you into the middle of next week…” or “If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week...”), thrown in, presumably, for good measure, it's so insanely silly, and in places, so ridiculously trashy it's laugh out loud good.
I know nothing about the book or how it unwittingly aroused hordes of women across the globe, but word has it that the book itself was so sub-standard that its makers have apparently tried to make the best of whatever they were given, and to their credit, they haven’t done all too badly in their attempt to turn what is essentially soft p*rn into a stylish and sexy romantic-unintentional-comedy™. I mean I’ve seen worse. But that’s hardly an endorsement for this film, which essentially is a Bollywood romance with references to S&M, spanking and a few naughty scenes thrown in.
For the uninformed, Fifty Shades of Grey revolves around a thick student and a self confessed virgin (cue – eyeroll), Anastasia Steele (Johnson), who, as a favour to her roommate, interviews wealthy entrepreneur Christian Grey (Dornan). However, upon meeting, the interview turns out to be quite unexpected as she finds herself smitten with Christian, and soon the two engage in a torrid romance where nothing is quite what it seems. While things go surprisingly well at first, it isn't long before Ana yearns for a normal relationship with her handsome suitor. One that presumably doesn’t involve pain and bondage, and well, who can blame her?
There was unanimous uproar at a relative unknown (Dornan) cast as the elusive and enigmatic Mr Grey, especially given the studio was eyeing up someone as huge as Ryan Gosling initially, but for all intents and purposes Dornan fits the part despite being woefully wooden at times. And for all his brooding sex appeal the shallow ones amongst us will really fail to notice his lack of acting credentials in the few crucial scenes that he’s required to do just that (guilty as charged). Johnson, perhaps, displays more of a range here embellishing her part with the right amount of naïveté and innocence and definitely rises above the mundane despite her ill conceived character. The supporting cast have painfully little to do by comparison, and drift in and out of scenes lending little gravitas to their precariously ill defined and poorly written characters.
Coming back to the film itself, there are a few scenes which are so tame I failed to understand what the fuss was about in the first place, but it seems that the novel was way more explicit than what was projected here, presumably, to ensure that it reached its target audiences – from the spinsters to the curious teenagers that is. And no I don’t fall into either of those categories lest you were wondering.
Sam Taylor Johnson’s direction is efficient but there are some glaring issues with the plot itself, and at times she never quite sparks up enough chemistry between the leads to project the requisite passion. The office scene meeting though, is well executed despite its inherent silliness and leaves you craving more.
For fans of the literature, the film ends rather abruptly and err... climaxes well, but leaves a bunch of questions unanswered, which I’m guessing will be answered in the sequel, should it ever get made.
Flaws aside, and there are many (poor screenplay, dismal plot and atrocious acting to name a few), against my better judgement, I'm going with an extremely generous two and a half stars for Fifty Shades For Grey.
It's a giggle, and at a run time of two hours, just about manages to engage. Not because of its plot of course. But because for the most part, you'll be left mulling over Christian's OTT line. "I don't make love. I only f-ck. Hard." Sold. If only my meetings were half as interesting, I’d be all over Dornan and wouldn't mind a seeing to by the enigmatic Mr Grey myself. Anyway. I digress. Go with gutter low expectations and have a few hearty LOLz. I know I did.