Janet W., Here…
Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of annoying. Opening with a clear comparison of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in the manner that they start their day. Grey is precise and disciplined while Steele is clumsy and frumpy. Because of her sick college roommate, Kate (Eloise Mumford), Steele is tasked with interviewing Grey. Grey will be the commencement speaker for their college graduation ceremony. Ms. Nervous Knots is clearly out of her league and this intrigues Grey. This film is nearly a point-by-point attempt at a re-vamping Wild Orchid (1989) with a more screwed up and twisted James Wheeler (Mickey Rourke) and more dingy and childish Emily Reed (Carré Otis). Don’t get excited, because it is not Wild Orchid. Touch is a major deal-breaker/game-changer in both films.
Admittedly, I have never read the Fifty Shades book series. From what I have heard, Fifty Shades of Grey should have been so edgy and sexually deviant in nature that I questioned the film’s R rating. There was a little this and a little that, but nothing really devastating. I’m not condoning sadistic and controlling treatment of a person in a relationship by the other (yes, I know that women can be just as sadistic and controlling as men, so I’m not putting this only on men).
One of my biggest pet peeves in romantic or sexy films is seeing nearly every part of the women on display in close-up while the man is barely shown. If Sex and the City and Forgetting Sarah Marshall can get away with a flaccid penis, surely the supposedly super risqué Fifty Shades of Grey should have had one. If Fifty Shades of Grey is supposedly aimed at the mature female demographic, then I guess the director thinks all women are lesbian. Hollywood, hear me clearly; women enjoy looking at MEN not women. The men in the theater dawned such expressions of boredom, which suggested that they were just as bored as the women.
Dakota Johnson reminds me of the innocent Cecile Caldwell (Selma Blair) in Cruel Intentions. Her performance was not very convincing after a short while. As if one encounter with Grey would make her a wily wheeler and dealer in the battle of the sexes. I have only seen Johnson briefly in two other films, The Social Network and Beastly. She was the Stanford girl, Amelia Ritter, who woke up with Justin Timberlake in her bed. She was sassy in that role and you see this side of her from the middle to the end of Fifty Shades of Grey. In Beastly, Johnson was Sloan, the shallow ex-girlfriend of Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer). Basically, she was a cold-hearted witch this aspect is not shown in Fifty Shades of Grey.
Jamie Dornan is not as hot as they are proclaiming him in the film. Similarly as Johnson, I have only seen Dornan in a film and a TV show, Marie Antoinette and Once Upon a Time. Dornan was the seducer Count Axel Fersen opposite Kirsten Dunst in the title role. He was pretty much a snooze in Marie Antoinette. In the role of Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman in Once Upon a Time, Dornan was a little interesting, but he didn’t last much past the first season. At least in Fifty Shades of Grey he was more stirring the loins. His eyes are both his most impressive draw and his creepiest feature. Can we say STALKER? I’m not drawing the line in the sand on either actor, but I hope their future work is much better. It was great to see Max Martini (Taylor, the driver), but I wished he had a bigger presence. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as Herc Hansen in Pacific Rim. I want to see him in more prominent roles. Hansen could seriously lead the way in the right film.
Overall, I was completely underwhelmed. My opinion seemed to resonant throughout the theater as I heard groans and negative comments as people left the theater. A few times the camera work was too fast in 180° pans which gave me a mild headache. The story progressed from 0 to 60 far too quickly and would suddenly crash into dullness. This became very frustrating and emotionally draining. As soon as the viewer thought the story might get good it would go back to humdrum. A few times I was emotionally, sensually, and romantically engaged, but the cold water of poor editing slapped me right out of it. The character development happened too easily and without much hindrance, especially for Grey. Grey was introduced as a disciplined and controlled individual, but a little biting of the lip and one mention of virginity and he nearly lost all control. Truth be told such a rarity (an adult attractive virgin) might cause men to breakdown. A definite praise that I can give Fifty Shades of Grey was in the musical scoring. Well-placed music filled the proper moments of the film. I particularly enjoyed the remix of Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love. Unfortunately, the possibility of bringing such an edgy novel to the big screen was simply not realized.
2 out of 5 Stars
Janet L. White
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FOLLOW-UP: I always wondered, why Dornan? After watching The Fall (a Netflix original), I get it. However, Dornan’s psychotic portrayal of a serial killer only handles one side of Grey’s Fifty Shades of F-Upped. Yes, I’ve now read the trilogy that is the Fifty Shades books. If the remaining two books are brought to production, it will be interestiing to see if he can bring the light to such darkness.