I can’t believe I watched a movie based off this Twilight fanfiction I read a few years ago. It’s a bit surreal, but mostly ridiculous that Fifty Shades of Grey has turned into practically the same worldwide phenomenon as Twilight. And just like Twilight, it raises controversy and starts hot debates on feminism, abuse, sex and more.
The TYF staff will be getting more into the nitty-gritty of Fifty Shades of Grey in our Four-Play Discussion of the film later this week. There’s a lot to address there, and it’s not something I’ll be getting too in-depth with in this review. Rather, this will be my thoughts of the technical aspects of Fifty Shades of Grey.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, Fifty Shades of Grey follows Anastasia Steele and her relationship with a young billionaire CEO, Christian Grey. From the moment she walks into the building, Ana’s homely appearance is a stark contrast to the perfect, sleek world of Grey Enterprises. But Christian is fascinated by her, and she’s definitely fascinated by him. So much so that she’s willing to deal with his standoff behavior and mysterious past. What she doesn’t bargain for is that Christian isn’t interested in a normal relationship.
If there’s one thing this movie proves to us, it’s that Dakota Johnson is a natural. She plays Ana to the T, wide-eyed, quiet, and inquisitive. Even in some of the bondage scenes, which I can only imagine how uncomfortable those can be, she gives it her all. I found that Johnson’s portrayal of Ana made the character more intriguing than the book ever did.
As for Christian Grey, well… I knew whoever took on that role wouldn’t have an easy time with it. Grey is pretty polarizing and some of the stuff he says is so ridiculous that I can’t imagine any real person saying his lines without dying a little inside by how grossly cheesy and pseudo-intense they can be. Unfortunately, Jamie Dornan doesn’t muster that right kind of intensity on the big screen. Sure, he’s attractive, but the stuff (the non-sexual stuff, that is) that had readers swooning was absent on-screen.
It’s not so much Dornan’s fault, who proved he’s a capable actor with his incredible work on The Fall. If the script only deviated from source material, a better movie would have resulted. Nothing about the film is spectacular. The script, which follows the book too closely, doesn’t allow the story to play out effectively. We’re stuck with E.L. James’ mundane plotting and frustrating characterizations. What makes it even more disappointing is that director Sam Taylor-Wood gives the film no visual or stylistic flair. Not only does it have a boring script, but the directing was too.
It’s rare when a movie is better than a book, but in this case, only because this movie is better than its source material doesn’t mean it’s good. There’s a lot going on in Fifty Shades of Grey, but this movie doesn’t skim the surface of it. It’s as shallow as the book, and it’s sort of odd that a movie as un-romantic as this one is dominating the Valentine’s Day Weekend Box Office.
After seeing this movie, I’ve had some great conversation with friends and fellow movie-goers about it. If there’s anything truly good about Fifty Shades of Grey, it has people talking about important and serious issues. The staff will be diving into these issues this coming week; stay tuned!
Fifty Shades of Grey is now playing in theaters.