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Fifty Shades Of Grey Review

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With over 100 million copies sold around the world, it was always inevitable that EL James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey, would get the Hollywood treatment. Or maybe that should read mistreatment.
When literature student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) as a favour for her roommate, she finds herself attracted to him and at the same time Grey is also attracted to her innocence and charms, but it’s on his terms. For Grey is a dominant and he wants Steele to be his submissive. So we’re talking whips, chains, paddles, ropes, crops, the whole nine yards of BDSM. As the movie progresses, and Grey whips (no pun intended) Anastasia’s virginity, things get a bit more risque and a bit darker, with blindfolds and leather belts being wielded by Grey as he attempts to convince this innocent literature student to become his submissive.

Within the opening few minutes the problems with Fifty Shades of Grey are quite prominent. The two leads have about as much chemistry as a rabid, starving pit bull and a baby bunny. Dakota Johnson, while on occasion attempts to do something resembling a performance (the laughable fall in Grey's door aside), is for the best part, a disaster. Her dialogue delivery is horrendous at times. She has very little presence or conviction and while she eventually settles into the role in the latter half, it’s far too late. 

But the real problem with the two leads is Mr. Grey himself. Jamie Dornan has done irreparable damage to his career here. It’s one of the biggest cases of miscasting in recent memory. He’s robotic, awkward and incredibly unlikeable. He’s playing a character that is a billionaire. Who has the world at his feet. He owns an incredible apartment, helicopters and a stunning range of Audis. Yet he has got about as much presence about him as a dead pigeon. Dornan’s performance as the all encompassing Christian Grey is a front runner for one of the worst performances of the last five years. Besides his clunky, Shakespearean style of speaking (at times it feels like he’s almost in a period drama), he seems terribly uncomfortable during the more intimate scenes, with an awkwardness that has to be seen to be believed. Maybe if he got some direction in preparing for the movie, let alone during it, it might have helped. It’s quite obvious he didn’t and just seems to have taken the book a bit too literally and as a result is as bland as the paper it’s written on.

The intimate scenes on screen are, while tastefully shot, nothing but cold, clumsy and about as titillating as Margaret Thatcher on a cold day. Genuinely there is no passion, no connection, nothing. Just two actors (and I use the term loosely) awkwardly going through the motions of sex scenes that serve as nothing more than glorified music videos to drive soundtrack sales. Are they explicit? Not really! Yes, you’ll see some private parts and the occasional lip biting. That aside, the majority of these so called controversial scenes involve Grey licking Anastasia’s belly. In fact, most of the scenes are quite the same, shot from different angles and just hobbled together adding up to just over 10 minutes of actual physical shenanigans.  They feel like they are dragged out to an inch of their life. Not to mention that fact that, the occasional flash of private parts (mainly Johnsons’) look like something you’d find in the back pages of National Geographic in the 70s.


Without cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, this would be an absolute disaster. At least somebody on the set gave a shit. McGarvey has shot this beautifully. Grey’s apartment, the exteriors of Seattle, the whole movie is shot incredibly well. But that’s really of little consolation.


Besides the dire performances from the cast and the horrifically written script (based on an equally horrifically written book)  the continuity problems are something else entirely. Grey is using a Macbook Pro, but the Apple symbol isn’t lit up. Nothing happens when he closes it. Maybe a billionaire has a busted Macbook. It also seemed like he had power over the weather too, as when Anastasia leaves his office, it’s miraculously raining cats and dogs and only seconds previous she was in a light and airy office. Maybe the building was so tall it was above the rain clouds. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


On a serious note, Sam Taylor-Johnson does an absolutely brutal job of bringing the book to life. Fair enough the source material isn’t the best, but she could have put some sort of stamp on it, pulling the themes from the book and conveying them on screen. Instead, Christian Grey is presented as nothing more than a predator, taking advantage of a girl that is obviously impressed with his billionaire ways. It’s especially obvious in the opening chapters as Grey seems to subtly lunge at Anastasia. Not to mention the bird in a cage wallpaper that adorns her room in his apartment. But, let’s not put on the feminist hat here or the political one, that’s a conversation for another day.

With a far better cast,  director and writing team who would have had a set of balls and goals Fifty Shades could have been a really decent movie. Instead, it’s bland, boring, predictable and has horrendous performances and serves as nothing but to drain the cash from your pocket. Hollywood exploitation at its best. For those of you who enjoyed the book, go back and give it another read instead of seeing this drivel. If there was ever a movie that needed a safe word, this is it.
While Mr. Grey is ready to see you now, you REALLY don’t want to see him. Fifty Shades of Meh!






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The Movie Bit: Fifty Shades Of Grey Review
Fifty Shades Of Grey Review
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