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'Fifty Shades of Grey' Review: More like Fifty Shades of Dissatisfaction

'Fifty Shades of Grey' Review: More like Fifty Shades of Dissatisfaction

Source: AssociatedPress

By: Lindsey Bahr

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Thursday 12 February 2015

Movie Title

'Fifty Shades of Grey' Review: More like Fifty Shades of Dissatisfaction

Director

Sam Taylor-Johnson

Star Cast

Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford

Curious? The posters for "Fifty Shades of Grey" coyly ask.

Whether or not you're one of the 100 million who bought, andpresumably read, E L James' kinky book, the buzz alone surroundingthis "Twilight" fan fiction turned international phenomenon is enoughto pique the interest of a rock. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is inherentlyspectacle.

With all that irresistible anticipation, how could a movie aboutBDSM be so run of the mill? The short answer: fear and money. It's onething to read about the bondage-enabled sexual awakening of a virgin.It's quite another to see it depicted on screen.

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson had an impossible mission on her handsto meld the tawdry with the conventional. It's like trying to mash upthe sensibilities of Lars von Trier with Nancy Meyers to create an endproduct that will be appealing on a mass scale. In trying to pleaseeveryone, though, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has stripped away the fun andsettled on palatable. There have been perfume commercials with moredepth and story arc.

For the uninitiated, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is about lit studentAnastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and her torrid affair with27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). They meet on alark, when her aspiring journalist roommate gets ill and Anastasiaagrees to help out by subbing in to interview the handsome mogul.

The two are made to look as mismatched as possible. She's a clumsyinnocent with a childish ponytail in tights and a cardigan, he lookslike he's just stepped out of an ad for bespoke suits and new moneypretention. We're supposed to believe that sparks fly immediately, butthis first meeting conjures up the dynamic of a predator and a scaredferal animal more than anything else.

Still, something snaps in Christian and he decides he must have heras his own. He starts popping up everywhere, from the hardware storewhere she works to the college bar where she's had a bit too much todrink to save her from a handsy friend.

Soon he's whisking Ana (Ms. Steele as he calls her) away on hishelicopter to a garish bachelor's pad/penthouse apartment, wooing herwith white wine (but not too much, as he constantly reminds her),domineering gazes, and antiquated formalities. Laughable sexualinnuendo peppers all their conversations.

But instead of the will-they-won't-they tension that even thesilliest sitcom can pull off effectively, the unfortunate consequenceis that the nearly 40 minutes that it takes for Christian and Ana togo under the sheets almost seem more gratuitous than anything thathappens in the Red Room of Pain. Also, after the sex starts, so do theexhaustive and dull contract negotiations.

The chemistry between Johnson and Dornan is decent, even if they doseem to be acting in different movies. Dornan's Christian is ahumorless caricature, while Johnson's Ana is actually quite likable,funny and strong-willed. In a film full of flaws, Johnson is anundeniable bright spot.

A lot has been made about what the popularity of James's book saysabout American women and their sexual fantasies. On screen, thatconversation makes even less sense. Fans hungering for lessconventional depictions of sex haven't been looking hard enough —non-pornographic sex is not unchartered territory in cinema, or eventelevision for that matter. There is more scintillating material in apremium HBO show than in this version of E L James's book.

"Fifty Shades of Grey," had an opportunity here to do somethingdifferent — to give a mass audience something worthy of all the hype.

We may have all been curious going in, but by the time the creditsroll, there's another question that springs to mind: Is that all thereis?

"Fifty Shades of Grey," a Universal Pictures release, is rated R bythe Motion Picture Association of America "for strong sexual contentincluding dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and forlanguage."

Running time: 125 minutes

Rating: One and a half stars out of four

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