Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle
Running time: 125 minutes
Fifty Shades of Grey is quite literally one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m not the film’s target audience of deprived, middle-aged women, but the plotline is nonsensical, the characters severely underdeveloped and the sex scenes do nothing to redeem the film’s massive failings.
Fifty Shades of Grey follows sweet and innocent Anastasia Steele, who falls for handsome and smooth billionaire Christian Grey after interviewing him for the student newspaper. But, as her relationship with him begins to blossom, she discovers his hidden dark side. Anastasia is shocked to learn that Christian’s bedroom habits are very particular, and it begins to dawn on her that a normal relationship with this man may never be possible.
The biggest problem with this film is the script. The books are famous for their terrible writing, and the film’s script is no different. The storytelling is confused – multiple plotlines are brought up and never fully resolved, probably due to the fact that two sequels have already been announced. Not to mention that the characters do things that are just absurd.
The most notable example is right at the end (spoiler alert for the few of you who actually care) when Anastasia finally comes to the realisation that Christian gets pleasure from her pain, despite the fact that they have discussed it at length and he has been practicing S&M on her for the majority of the movie.
Much of the equally appalling dialogue comes across as more humorous than sexy. With such gems as “I don’t make love, I fuck hard”, this film won’t be winning a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar any time soon.
The performances are generally poor. Male lead Jamie Dornan is the worst of the bunch. He fails to use the acting talent he showcased in BBC 2’s The Fall and his performance is, well, stiff. Admittedly, he didn’t have much to work with, but Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia, has equally cringey lines. and her performance arguably carries the whole film.
The film has attracted much anticipation for its potentially adventurous sex scenes. However, they’re pretty standard for what you’d expect to see in a romantic comedy, the exceptions being a couple that involve Anastasia being tied up and Christian hitting her with a whip a few times. If you really are looking for a film through which you can ‘lose control’ and explore your darkest sexual fantasies, this is not it. Fifty Shades of Grey was doomed as soon as it began production. Although it does include reasonably capable actors and is very well shot (with the exception of a slightly disconcerting scene involving Anastasia’s lips and a Grey Corporation pencil), the only way this film could be made passable is if it deviated so far from the source material to render it hardly recognisable. Even with the appalling dialogue, it could have been redeemed if it had gone as extreme with the sex scenes as in the books. But then again, it probably wouldn’t have been allowed in cinemas. The result is a sweaty mess of a film which will have you asking yourself why you are watching it at all. Especially when you start to hear certain questionable sounds in the cinema.