Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey
(Sam Taylor-Johnson, 2015)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: More M&S than S&M, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' leaves the viewer (and those inner goddesses) cold but was that this adaptation's plan all along?
Could it be that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is misunderstood? Could it be that the film isn't supposed to be sexy? Could it be that it's deliberately lacking chemistry?
Sam Taylor-Johnson's screen version of E.L. James' ridiculously popular and popularly ridiculed erotic novel is film more interested in trying to understand how and why a naive yet independent woman (Dakota Johnson as literature student Anastasia Steele) falls into an abusive relationship with an enigmatic, controlling billionaire (Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey) while the man's need to dominate everything in his life leaves him completely cold.
Indeed, in Taylor-Johnson's hands, 'Fifty Shades' is not hot at all. It's barely even erotic. It could be that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is less of a fantasy and more of a straight-laced warning - a surprising gamble that comes at the expense of an easy, soft-core night at the movies where many filmgoers predicted there wouldn't be a dry seat in the house.
Attempting to avoid any unintentional laughs, Kelly Marcel's script strips away those silly inner monologues (no "inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves" here) and is more focussed on the mind games, the need for exercising control, the pushing and the pulling of two polar opposites grinding together to see if an equator exists. There are clashes and sparks but no fire in this love story.
The much anticipated sex scenes have a similar feel - they're not explicit but rather more functional. Throw in some nice cinematography and silky pop tunes and 'Fifty Shades' is more like an M&S ad than a true S&M display.
Is anybody enjoying this relationship? Is anybody enjoying this film? 'Fifty Shades of Grey' should have been car crash cinema. You can't help but feel you've been taken for a ride instead.