Gaining infamy for its title alone, author EL James must have been delighted to see it rack in dollars. That doesn’t mean it was any good, with the bestseller lists masking a poorly written tome. Success breeds spin-offs despite poor quality which is something Hollywood knows. Determined to capture a slice of commercial literary erotica, the film version adheres to its contrivances in cynical detail.
Ana (Dakota Johnson) is a literature student sent to interview wealthy businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Enraptured by his charms, she falls under his spell. Equally beguiled, Grey aims to control her affections. Beginning a passionate affair, their sexual predilections know no bounds. Discovering the man beneath the Armani suit, Ana’s life is altered in unimaginable ways.
Despite a reputation for saucy sexcapades rivalling Caligula, Fifty Shades of Grey is much ado about nothing. The over-hyped sex scenes have been toned down for commercial consumption with Sam Taylor-Johnson’s direction only providing sketchy character portraits. Ana and Christian are such uninteresting people with little charisma, their sexual chemistry is virtually non-existent. It doesn’t help that Dornan and Johnson’s wooden performances fail to bring life to the sexy shenanigans.
Whilst the idea of someone using unromantic sex to wield more power is intriguing, the script’s misogynist tone is often hard to take. Fifty Shades of Grey pretends feminism never happened with its antiquated attitudes undermining what’s left of Ana’s dignity. The auto-tuned music adds to the screenplay’s predictability in spite of gorgeously shot locations. Saddled with an unconvincing relationship and un-erotic couplings, any gains made quickly vanish under the weight of the film’s overly-earnest demeanour.
Due to a loyal fanbase and high advance ticket sales Fifty Shades of Grey will be a huge hit. Sequels are already in the works ensuring the phenomenon will continue. Non-fans may wonder what the fuss is about with the end product proving to be resoundingly anti-climactic.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 3
P.S. – The girls from Glam Adelaide office also went to the preview, and loved the film. Guess you’ll need to see it to make up your own mind about this year’s most talked about movie!