“A tiresome affair” Fifty Shades of Grey review


Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson   

Music: Danny Elfman

Voices: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Rita Ora

The Fifty Shades phenomenon is something very hard to calculate. Yes, we know its sold millions of copies worldwide, but its readership is likely to be much higher. I’m sure someone somewhere will know another person who didn’t go out and buy the book, but just borrowed it.

Creating a film from E.L. James’ novel was never going to be an easy task for numerous reasons. The harsh reality is that Brits have mixed views with regards to seeing sex on the big screen – nonetheless, Sam Taylor-Johnson, director of the critically acclaimed Nowhere Boy, was chosen to helm an adaptation. But is it a success?

Partially is the short answer. The film is nicely shot and well-acted, but in trying to craft a ‘classy’ movie, Taylor-Johnson has stripped it of what people read the novel for – escapism and of course sex.

For the uninitiated, Fifty Shades follows the story of young Ana Steele, a shy, timid virgin as she begins a rather, shall we say, unusual relationship with the wealthy, intimidating Christian Grey.

grey26f-1-webThe lead roles are cast well with Dakota Johnson playing Ana as she appears in the novel – minus her irritating thought processes – and Jamie Dornan as Mr Grey. Other roles are scarce on the ground with glorified cameos for Rita Ora and Marcia Gay Harden.

It’s been well publicised that with only 20 minutes of sex in a 2 hour film, pleasing hardcore fans of the books was going to be a difficult task. The sex that is there is reasonably tastefully edited and nicely choreographed, though this also creates Fifty Shades’ biggest problem.

There simply is no story to speak of, with each raunchy scene being scattered alongside numerous plot fillers like helicopter rides which act as a catalyst to the next sequence of passion and when the majority of them are removed, watching is a tiresome affair.

Moreover, whilst the leads perform well on their own, the chemistry between them is sorely lacking. At no point in the film is there a whisper of sexual tension – with Dornan’s Grey coming across overly creepy and Johnson’s Ana reeking of desperation.

Despite its 18 certification here in the UK, Fifty Shades never feels like it is fullyJamie_Dornan deserving of it. With a highly controversial and no doubt too lenient 12 rating being awarded to it in France, it almost feels like producers here tried as hard as they could to slip it into the 18 category – therefore maximising controversy before its release.

Unfortunately, digging beneath the surface reveals a good film trying desperately to break out of its shackles. Exploring the characters more than in James’ admittedly lacklustre novel ultimately does more harm than good.

Overall, Sam Taylor-Johnson should be commended for trying to bring a controversial novel to the big screen and the soundtrack is very good indeed. However, the lack of chemistry between the two leads and a lack of sex and story mean you’re more likely to be checking your watch than checking your heart rate.

Category Scoring /10
Story/Plot 5
Acting/Vocal Performance 6
Special Effects/Cinematography 6
Soundtrack 7
Costume/Design 5
Script/Dialogue 5
TOTAL                                      /60 34

Overall: Ultimately, a little dull.

8 thoughts on ““A tiresome affair” Fifty Shades of Grey review

  1. I don’t really agree. I thought it was a horrific movie. And the acting was terrible. The only good thing about it was the soundtrack. I was very disappointed. But maybe it’s because I hadn’t read the book and didn’t know what to expect.

  2. Hi Kate,
    I agree with you that the acting when the pair were together left a lot to be desired but apart from each other showed that despite the poor source material, they are both decent actors.

    Totally agree with your comments about the soundtrack 🙂 thanks for commenting.

  3. Would give both script and story a 2/10! Thought he was pretty terrible in it, empty and unconvincing. Dakota Johnson was the best thing about the film, surprisingly likeable. Wish they’d have merged all three books for a better plot (not that they ever would have). Haven’t read the books so can’t compare. But okay for a laugh! 🙂

  4. I agree with Emma, if they had included even some of the second book it would have had more of a plot. I think they both did a decent job with a difficult acting task but I would definitely say that the soundtrack is the best thing about the film and if it weren’t for the comedy that came with watching it with others I think I would have switched off after 5 minutes.

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