1 1/2 Stars
The most anticipated literary to screen adaption since The Da Vinci Code, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters four years after it captured the National zeitgeist. I have never cracked the pages of the S&M soap opera, and based on this first entry of a reported trilogy, I will continue to avoid it. Riding in on a tidal wave of rumor, anticipation, and troubles behind the scenes, Fifty Shades of Grey turns out to be not quite worth all the fuss.
Standing somewhere between 9 & 1/2 weeks and The Thomas Crown Affair, this overly melodramatic and mostly idiotic movie takes two unlikable characters and pits them in a sordid love affair that only serves to make them both increasingly more unlikable. At the end of the bloated two-hour plus running-time I wanted to get as far away from these people and their narrowed views as possible.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is a NYU graduate who conducts an interview with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) the city’s most eligible bachelor, and corporate magnate. During the awkward interview Christian sense something he likes about the innocence of Anastasia. Without provocation he begins to send her expensive gifts and appears at bars she frequents. The kind of actions that would typically draw red flags for any normal woman are looked upon with warmth by the vapid Anastasia. The attraction turns into a semi-romance but quickly Grey’s rules and sexual quirks are reveled to the curiosity of the young woman.
This leads to some fairly tame bondage scenes (Basic Instinct was far more explicit) and entry into the infamous ‘Red Room’, a secret chamber to carry out sexual fantasies. A contract is worked up and terms are agreed upon, stating that Anastasia must live in a state of near sexual and physical indentured servitude to the powerful Grey. The relationship begins to sour with the appearance of an elder woman who once introduced … into the world of S&M.
The story suffers from a lack of obstacles or dilemmas for its characters. There is no love triangle, revelation or problem. Anastasia and … go through the mechanics of their predictable predicaments with no rooting interested from the audience for them to stay together. The last scene is particularly messy and is emblematic of the film as a whole. The peripheral elements are on-screen, production design and technical credits are on the level, but the story itself isn’t a worthy tale to hold one’s attention for not only a 130 minute film but two proposed sequels. I’m tapping out of this torture early on.
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Stars: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden