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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Michael De Luca,  Dana Brunetti, E. L. James
Screenplay by Kelly Marcel
Based on Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, 
Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini,
Dylan Neal, Callum Keith Rennie, Jennifer Ehle,
Marcia Gay Harden

E.L. James’ inexplicably world renowned, mommy porn, best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey, has finally made it to the big screen.

And let’s be real–I’ve been counting the days, anticipating how the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, would turn utter shit into something beautiful. 

Now of course the film was better than the book.

But that bar is so low, it’s on the ground.

Best things first:

Fifty is a very aesthetically pleasing film and features a killer soundtrack. I’ve already bought it.

The music amplifies tension in a devious yet sensitive manner. I mean…Beyoncé. Sia. Danny Elfman. Frank Sinatra. Need I say more?

Space, sets, lighting, all the pretty actors and their fancy wardrobes–warm and immersing. Swarming shots of Seattle are exuberant, and extreme close-ups of lips and naked bodies, accompanied with proper slow beats, are mesmerizing. Credit where credit is due–Fifty was put together and executed really well.

It’s just unfortunate that the film is pure beautiful idiocy.

Let’s review the non-plot:

Two people. Dominant. Submissive. Restraint of emotions. Restraint with chains. Naked Dakota Johnson. Some whining about an unestablished relationship. Scowling. Naked Dakota. Close up of Jamie Dornan’s torso. Yes. No. Maybe. No. Yes. No. I don’t know. Fine. Fine. Amazing Beyonce song. Dakota naked. Another wimpy fight over a relationship that has never developed, with characters who are flat and have zero backstory. Naked. Naked. Sex scene. Sex scene. Christian being controlling. Sex scene. And let’s not forget the ninety second cameos of characters who aren’t worth mentioning. Yeah.

Now the characters:

Anastasia Steele is a quiet, mousy about-to-be college grad. She’s awkward, she’s timid. And Dakota Johnson did a pretty good job in the role. While she had a garbage script to work with, as well as no real story to express, the actress had great timing and her awkwardity (my favorite made-up word) was genuine and humorous.

Jamie Dornan. Oh Jamie. I apologize to your pretty, chiseled face, but Meh. The actor masters the famous Christian Grey scowl and does a lovely job keeping his eyes open for periods of time that are far too lengthy. He’s hot, always in a suit and controlling, but unfortunately, rather boring. I wasn’t intimidated by him at all. The actor was doofy to watch at times. At least Dakota tried. Dornan literally just stands around, pushing, shoving, demanding, always rigid. There are dramatic one-liners, that are impossible to deliver without sounding like painful cliches. And his American accent is distracting. There’s an odd twang present and I couldn’t help but notice he said Anastasia’s name three different ways. All that aside, for you female viewers, he’s hot. He’s sexy. And he is shirtless most of the film. But hold on to your toast. You’ll see what I mean.

Now overall, despite it’s baseline of terrible, the film was, admittedly, awesomely steamy and hilarious at times. Of course we all knew it was going to be void of character development and depth of any measure. And I don’t know how people feel about seeing Dakota Johnson naked for a couple of hours, usually tied up, but kudos to the actress for taking on such a provocative role.

I respect the actors, as I did with Blue is the Warmest Color, for exposing themselves in situations that may or may not make people uncomfortable. I admire their comfort outside the comfort-zone.

The erotic story of a billionaire young man and his prowl for a submissive young lady has been done many times. While Fifty is just a bland romance with beautiful people, I give it credit for being bolder than others I’ve seen, within the soft-core realm. I want to recognize and give props to the explicit nature of Fifty Shades of Grey.

It wasn’t as campy as the eighties flick, 9 ½ Weeks, with Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke (when he was hot), nor was it as peculiar as Secretary, with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhal. Fifty wasn’t shy during the S&M scenes, full frontals were abundant. And while they may or may not be representative of actual actions (I think that depends on taste), the delivery was genuine enough to be intriguing, yet tame enough so as not to be disturbing.

For those who have read the books:

I’m so very thankful that this movie was void of Anastasia’s offensively annoying inner-monologues. And I’m honestly shocked they didn’t spit the word, mercurial a dozen times, or the famous, “Crap, Double Crap.” They did squeeze in, “Laterz Baby,” as well as my absolute favorite, be ware of spoiler, “Fifty shades of fucked up.”

And that just made me smile so wide.

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