So let me make sure I get this straight, the movie is the dominant, I’m the submissive, and boredom is the tool to inflict my pain? OK, I think I’m understanding now.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is the movie adaptation of the popular and controversial book of the same name about the innocent Anastasia Steele and her love affair with a young rich mogul who introduces her to his world where love involves handcuffs, whips, and various other instruments of seeming torture. We then follow their relationship as she waffles between curiosity and repulsion amidst coming to deeply care for this complex and damaged man. Oh, and sex, they also have lots of sex. That’s right, like the book before it was the high class, mainstream version of a smutty romance novel, the movie attempts to do the same. But setting aside that soft core porn aspect of the film for just a second, is there a good movie hiding underneath the sweat and skin?
No, not really. I mean if the movie succeeds at all in telling a compelling story it’s in the atmosphere. I think Sam Taylor-Johnson is a competent director and she proves she at least knows how to build character through music and editing. There’s an ominous and dangerous undercurrent about this Mr. Grey, and the direction plays with the way our two leads battle back and forth to find where that danger is. And actually that battle that Anastasia wages to maintain her own control of her relationship and actions might be the only true dramatic tension in the entire film. Which honestly just isn’t enough to make any of this interesting much beyond the giggles and titters of the schoolkids who found a peephole to view something they’ve been told is off limits.
I mean that’s what this is about right? A sneak peek into a transgressive sexual world of pain and dominance? But is there anything that makes the story not just titillating but actually interesting? And why does it really just feel like a 2 hour psychologists exercise of “good touch, bad touch”? Because there really isn’t much else to it. But the worst thing for me, is Christian Grey himself. Not only did I feel the performance was bland and paint by numbers, but I can’t imagine a real life Anastasia falling for him. He is the embodiment of selfishness, greed, and comments that should have red flags waving so fast they start to tatter. I mean, are we really to the point where this is the kind of man that is a romantic lead? Also, as graphic as it is, and it is graphic, it really doesn’t push the boundaries past other movies that have come before it. There are probably a dozen movies every year that come out that are more graphic than this one is sexually and the only thing that makes this one different is the hubub and uproar that then becomes a built in marketing tool for a curious audience.
Overall, Fifty Shades of Grey, is basically fifty shades of Meh. Even though the atmosphere and tone are painted well, the story is completely uninteresting beyond it’s controversial content. Combine that resulting boredom with a repugnant leading man and the movie seems to be securely bound to a C-