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Fifty Shades of Review: A Critique of the First Movie

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

A new movie sequel is coming out this Valentine’s Day: Fifty Shades Darker.

I haven’t seen it, but I plan to, and I plan on doing a review afterwards. For now, all I can offer is a brutally honest review of the first movie: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Let me just start by saying: that film was terrible in essentially every way. I went into this movie (figuratively; do you really think I paid money to see this in a theater?) with absolutely zero expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was somehow worse than I thought it might be. This movie was so bad it put me into an existential crisis.

If terrible were a speed, this movie was faster than the speed of light. If bad could be a temperature, this movie was negative Kelvin. It’s so undeniably bad that it divided by 0. It created and destroyed matter. I question my reality because this movie exists. The only way I can possibly review it is to break my critiques into chunks. So here we go:


The characters themselves are fundamentally flawed.

I can’t remember what Christian Grey does for a living, but apparently he’s rich. All I really remember about him is that he’s creepy. He says really stalkery, inappropriate things to the main girl the first time they meet, and he doesn’t get any better as the movie goes on. I was so weirded out at one point that I wanted to file a restraining order against Christian myself. Even the way he stares at her is gross. Anastasia Steele (my God, that name) is an English student, despite being the least romantic or sexually aware person on Earth. Aren’t English majors supposed to be passionate, worldly people? If so, why is Anastasia so naive? She always seems so childish; I want my characters to be at least able to HAZARD a guess on what the function of a butt plug is (guess what? she didn’t know).

There are a few minor characters, but I never cared enough to remember what they looked like, let alone what they did or said. The only minor character who I do remember is Christian’s assistant because she was so attractive it was almost off-putting; I wanted her to be Anastasia Steele.


The main characters’ relationship is, in one word, awkward.

For a relationship that was supposed to be based on BDSM, these two are unbelievably tame. Hell, the movie never shows anything below the belt for Christian Grey, which doesn’t make any sense to me because the books targeted the straight female demographic; women were there for the other Johnson (not the Dakota kind) so why not show some skin?

Also, the onscreen sex was funny at best. The actors were clearly not comfortable with each other to have an onscreen romance of any type, let alone a very sexual one. The director should’ve cast actors with great chemistry, like Bradley Cooper and JLaw, though I doubt those two would ever sink so low to act in this trashcan of a production.


No one watches porn for the plot unless the plot is ridiculous; this means I get the right to critique Fifty Shades of Grey on its storyline because oh my Lord it makes no sense.

The “story” is centered around a weird contract between Christian and Anastasia. Paperwork: it’s as sexy as it sounds. Anastasia needs to sign off on this contract in order to enter a dominant/submissive relationship before she’s technically “allowed” to have kinky sex with her rich boyfriend. Why does she have to sign a contract? I don’t know. Is it that important for Anastasia sign it? I don’t think so, seeing as how the contract only matters when the screenwriter feels like it. It’s just a MacGuffin, a plot coupon, an excuse to have complications in the character’s relationship when a complication is needed. It’s dumb.


There are a few scenes that were clearly supposed to be serious but were so odd that I had to pause my TV screen to laugh for a few minutes.

The first scene that made me lose it didn’t have a single word. For some reason, after Christian and Anastasia have sex, the film cuts to a shot where Christian is playing piano. Look at this shot for a moment. It’s a gorgeous scene, with Anastasia wrapped in a white blanket and Christian in the shadows on the other side of the apartment, doing his best impression of a psychopath. In a better movie, I would say there was a metaphor here, but the way this scene plays out is so awkward; Anastasia spends what seems like an eon to walk toward sexy Beethoven across the room, only to get picked up by him and whisked back off to her side of the room. She walks across the set, sits on the piano, gets picked up by Christian, and carried back across the set. Walk, sit, walk back. It felt like it took an hour. No words, nothing. And then the movie just cuts to something else. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt like it was a cut of the film that was thrown in to add an extra minute of viewing time. Or possibly, there was a brand deal with Fazioli pianos.

The other scene I laughed at was supposed to be the climax (entendre intended) of the movie… maybe. So Anastasia is arguing with Christian because she doesn’t get him and he’s screwed up and blah blah blah contract bullshit blah blah. She says something along the lines of “Why are you like this? Why do you need to hurt people for pleasure?” He snaps at her: “It’s just the way I am!”. The music rises and its all dramatic, and you expect him to start to explain the reasons why. Depression? Childhood trauma? Something else that likens the interest in BDSM to a mental illness? Well, he doesn’t elaborate. Instead, he looks away from Anastasia and says…

“Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up.”

I had to pause the TV, I was laughing so hard; but judging by Anastasia’s reaction to this line, it wasn’t supposed to be a funny one. I think this was a serious moment.

Fifty Shades of Fucked up. There was a $40 million dollar budget for a movie with that line. And I watched the whole thing.


Now, this movie wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen because of just the movie. There are a lot of things that make this movie so god awful.

This movie is an adaptation of a terribly written book. Strike one. The book is actually a fan fiction. Strike two. It’s adapted from Twilight. Strike three, and I’m not done. The movie had a $40 million budget, complete with a soundtrack with songs from A-lister celebrities. Strike four. The text and the film imply that having sexual kinks are bad, but taking a drunk girl that you barely know back to your house after she tells you to go away (this happens, Christian does this) is totally OK and kind of hot. Strike five. The movie lacks basic plot, coherence, conflict, or character development because it wants to be sexy instead (and the movie isn’t even sexy). Strike six. This movie cost money. Strike seven. The movie’s screenwriter has been nominated for three Academy Awards. Strike eight. This movie cannot decide whether it is about romance or erotica, and it shows. Strike nine. That’s three outs, and I could keep going for another eight innings.


I rate this movie 10/50 Shades….of Fucked Up. I cannot wait to see the next one.


Image Credit: Book Riot, Coming Soon, Assets