My Facebook and Twitter timelines have included a hefty amount of Fifty Shades of Grey discussion. Some are saying that the film is pornographic and isn’t appropriate for the silver screen. Some bring up the point that it’s an unhealthy and unsafe BDSM relationship because Grey exhibits too much control. Then there are those whom are ready to see the book acted out with an insane amount of detail. Then there are those unashamed to go because of nudity. All in all, it caused controversy but at the end of the day it’s just a film.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is seemingly a nobody. She’s a virgin who’s about to graduate college and she isn’t too focused on finding love. One day, she has to fill-in for her roommate for an interview with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), billionaire owner of Grey House. Upon meeting him, Anastasia is completely enamored with him, while being as equally frightened by him. He’s a gentleman, a scholar, and a man who likes to have control over everything he has.
After completing the interview, Grey approaches Anastasia about going to coffee with her. Immediately, he regrets that decision because he can’t be romantically involved wither anyone. However, he does see a way that they can be together. That being said, it involves chains, whips, ties, and spanking. He’s a Dominant and wants Anastasia to be his submissive, being to his every will. She’s willing to try, but there is a limit for everything.
Fifty Shades of Grey is nowhere near as explicit as one would expect, but it’s also nowhere near as interesting as one would have hoped either. This ﬁlm is easily the most controversial and talked about ﬁlm of the year so far, given its BDSM subject matter, but the ﬁlm is relatively tame and doesn’t do much for the audience by way of entertainment. Oddly enough, the ﬁlm is actually quite boring and you never really learn anything about anyone. Sure, the ﬁlm can be sexy here and there, but it’s really not worth your money when porn is free…
Dakota Johnson, if anything, is the saving grace for the ﬁlm. While her Kristen Stewart level of general disinterest is constantly ﬂuctuating throughout the ﬁlm, she does bring a level of curiosity and a willingness to try new things that’s refreshing for the audience. Her reactions, more than anything, are what elicit great laughter and sometimes worry for those watching her partake in potentially harmful endeavors. She’s the only “real” character in the ﬁlm and we at least get to see where she comes from and how she lives her life.
Jamie Dornan, the speciﬁcally mysterious sex aﬁcionado, is perhaps the most uninteresting guy on the entire planet, save for his enormous fortune. He’s a billionaire, he makes people sign contracts so he can bring them pleasure, and he becomes obsessive with his powers of control. As an audience, we know next-to-nothing about what he does to attain his billions and he only reveals certain bits of information when he feels particularly weak. He’s rude to nearly everyone in his life, including his mother, and is a generally odd guy to be around. He’s handsome, yes, but that doesn’t mean we have to get behind him. Speaking of behind, you see much of his.
As far as chains and whips go, this ﬁlm goes from stalled to bondage in an instant, but then proceeds with its non-plot almost too quickly. We are told what most tools and toys are used for and that often brings some laughter, as Johnson is constantly questioning certain items. Things really get steamy when the ropes tighten and the mask slips on as the clothes slip off, and for a minute we are transported into the mind of Christian Grey. We watch some teasing, there’s some rough play, and then ultimately a big ﬁnish. These scenes build rather quickly and while they’re somewhat sexy, they’re presented all wrong given the context of the ﬁlm.
I believe that it’s fair to say that this if a ﬁlm geared towards women, but I’m sure those interested in the subject matter will come out to see the ﬁlm too. Given these groups of people ready to see what they read, I’m sure they’ll be disappointed to know that the ﬁlm takes no issue with fully exposing Johnson, but covering up Dornan and keeping him relatively tame. It’s 2015 and female nudity is expected, but the thought of male nudity in a ﬁlm about BDSM is ridiculous to the MPAA. There’s also the willful disregard for normal interactions, as Dornan is abusive in his control, unlike most Dominant and submissive relationships.
Fifty Shades of Grey is more subdued than you may like, but that’s the least of its issues. In over two-hours, it fails to address any sort of plot, the audience knows very little about the characters, and there’s not much that actually happens. The sex and BDSM is entertaining to some extent, but even it is very tame. Rather than going all out, a la Wolf of Wall Street, this ﬁlm would rather tease and set up a sequel which infuriated everyone so much more in the end. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson, it felt, didn’t fully embrace this ﬁlm and it suffers because of that.
Fifty Shades of Grey Trailer