The only reason you should watch Fifty Shades of Grey is if you’re forcefully cuffed to the chair. Or if you’re on a date with someone you don’t like and wish to kill the romance. In that case, no other film would do a better job of putting you and your partner off relationships and sex.
Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most anticipated and most talked about films of this year. Based on the novel by E.L. James, the film explores the relationship between a shy literature graduate, Anastasia (Ana) Steele, and the irresistible billionaire businessman, Christian Grey.
Ana meets Christian when she interviews him for the university newspaper as a favour to her flatmate. While the two seem to be attracted to each other, things get complicated when Christian tells Ana that he doesn’t want a normal relationship.
“I don’t do romance,” he says, “My tastes are very singular. You wouldn’t understand.”
He makes her sign a non-disclosure agreement and asks her to “willingly surrender herself” to him, or be his “sex slave”, as Ana calls it at one point in the film. The story continues as they discuss the contract of this proposed S&M relationship, with Christian trying to get her to agree to the arrangement by bribing her with hollow romantic gestures and expensive gifts, and Ana trying to unravel the mystery that is Christian Grey.
Christian Grey, who is described in the books as “the epitome of male beauty”, is played by Jamie Dornan. While Dornan’s handsomeness fits Christian’s description, the actor fails to play the character convincingly. Snogging aside, Kelly Marcel’s script gives him very little to do. The bland dialogues and the tasteless mood swings from one scene to another make him look more like a PMSing girl than an erotic enigma.
Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia Steele is odd. She manages to show Ana’s battle between her feelings for Christian and her desire to have a normal relationship, and still makes the viewer wonder if she is bipolar by any chance. The blame, once again, falls on the poorly written script, which moves too randomly from scene.
The sex scenes fail to impress as well, which is a shame because the movie is essentially about sex. You would think that the cleverly edited shots of Christian’s hands moving over Ana’s body, a fair amount of sex toys and plenty of nudity would be steamy enough, but clearly that is not the case. There is no chemistry whatsoever between Dornan and Johnson, and the latter’s expressions during the love scenes makes you cringe.
Even outside the bedroom and Christian’s playroom (Or the “Red Room of Pain,” in E.L. James’ words), the leading duo fails to convey the attraction their characters feel towards each other. The lure seems forced from the get go, and the only sparks I saw flying that day were from the construction site on my way back home.
The sadomasochistic dialogues end up sounding more threatening than romantic, even for an S&M relationship. “If you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week,” Christian says to Ana as he expresses his disapproval at Ana getting drunk on a night out with her friends. Note that this happens before they were in a relationship and before Ana knew anything about Christian’s sexual interests.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) overdoes the sexual attraction scenario by focusing too heavily on the little things like Ana nibbling on a pencil, Christian’s grip tightening on his desk and Ana’s constant heavy breathing. Yes, she is attracted to him, we get it. Tell the girl to stop panting!
Christian notices Ana’s breathing pattern too in a scene where he all of a sudden transforms into Sherlock Holmes, deducing that she wanted to have sex judging by the way she pressed her thighs together and breathing hitched. Ana resisted the sex there, which was surprising because I was mentally prepared for another pointless, soft-porn sequence.
That being said, the negotiation scene where Ana and Christian discuss the limits of their S&M relationship does elicit a laugh or two. Though one does wonder why they were going through the contract papers in an office meeting room with almost no light. Did they not care about their eyesight at all? Another scene that brings a smile to ones face is where Christian takes Ana hang-gliding. It is shot beautifully with the actors’ expressions being sincere and realistic for once in the entire film.
Overall, Fifty Shades of Grey fails to live up to the hype created around it. With its abrupt cliff-hanger ending, it leaves the viewers confused as to what the whole point of the film was. Let me save your money and time by answering that: the film was pointless. Skip it… And if you are very much in the mood for a sexy romance, then watch Dangerous Liaisons (1988 film) or American Beauty (1999 film). They never get old.