50 Shades of Grey
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson
Let’s start with a confession – I haven’t read the “Grey” trilogy. Not because I have any problem with the subject matter but for the same reason I didn’t read the “Twilight” trilogy. I am not a teenage girl or a “curious” woman.
So what is the movie? Its a Disney princess live action with blindfolds, its “My Fair Lady” with bondage, it’s a two hour Chanel ad’ with some mild S&M.
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey a 28 year old billionaire who has a “troubled” background and a taste for BDSM. I’ve seen Dornan in a few things, including most recently The Fall on BBC. I’ve enjoyed his work and would have thought he had the required gravitas to play the part. How wrong could I be? For some reason he reminds of a well chiselled hamster throughout and to say he is wooden would be an insult to furniture.
Dakota Johnson (daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) plays Anastasia Steele, the only American woman who is still a virgin and sexually naive in her early 20s…really! When her roommate can’t do an interview with Grey because she is unwell she sends the mousey ingénue in her place.
Now, before I go any further with the “plot” (stifling a chuckle), I really have to address the 50 shades bit. Christian’s office building is Grey House. The staff wear grey uniforms, the décor is grey, he only ever wears grey, his home is grey (except for one room, I’ll get to that later), the registration on his helicopter is GREY, his Audi R8 is grey and in an unashamed case of product placement all the tech featured is Apple and yes you guessed it…grey. Enough already, point taken, I got the symbolism…sheesh!
During the interview Grey is fascinated by the innocent young woman and although she is intimidated by his arrogance she is undoubtedly attracted to him. He starts to pursue her and inevitably she falls for him. He explains he has certain predilections and suggests she googles submissive on the new computer he sends her. She is shocked by what she sees but is clearly keen to learn more.
On the first visit to his sumptuous apartment he shows her his “Red Room”. An exotically decorated dungeon with every bit of equipment made to cater to his needs. Of course she is shocked and stunned but that doesn’t prevent her for allowing him to “deflower” her five minutes later.
He presents her with a contract outlining her duties as his submissive and his responsibilities as her dominant. Time for another aside here. Now it is not unheard of for contracts to be drawn up between the parties involved in this kind of lifestyle but the contract he presents her with is about 20 pages long and clearly written by a lawyer of “sorts”. Even if she signed the bloody thing on a whim then broke all the terms in the following 24 hours what’s he gonna do …sue her?
The remainder of the film is basically about the struggle she has with signing the dumb contract and how she exercises her control over her supposed dominant suitor. Of course it has the inevitable “cliff-hanger” ending leaving way for the sequel. Hopefully, I can take a swerve on that one.
The film is absolute twaddle. The script is inane and the acting is pretty awful throughout concentrating primarily on him looking stern and her biting her lip. The direction is painstakingly slow and pedestrian and at just over two hours that is seriously noticeable.
Does it have any saving graces? Well there are a couple of intentionally funny scenes specifically the one in the hardware store and later the “business meeting” to discuss the contract. There are also some unintentional laughs due to the stilted dialogue. It looks very pretty, the cinematography is lush. However, the best bit by far is the soundtrack which has some really good tunes and helps to move things along in suitable style. Apart from that the simple answer is no.
Some people may be a little shocked at some of the “action” but there have certainly been far more shocking scenes in other adult cinema and anyway you’re hardly going to see it if you’re not expecting at least some titillation. Nevertheless, I predict the damn thing will take a fortune as no doubt will the two to come. I mean over a 100 million people have read the books and all those people can’t be wrong…can they?