Grade: D-


Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden

Let me start this review with a quick disclaimer: I did not read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. That being said, I don't think I missed much, especially now. The film adaptation of the surprise-bestseller meets every expectation you'd probably have for a movie of this caliber and then some. It's hard to be too critical of a film that wasn't intended to necessarily be art as much as it is a tool for box office success. The script is laughable. The content is unbelievable. The film is not good and even the guffawing and giggling it provides will never add up to a great movie experience.

Anastasia Steele is an innocent college student who crosses paths with the elusive, filthy rich, and handsome Christian Grey. Their not-so-subtle flirting leads to a very eventful few weeks.  isn't one to shy away from being brutally honest and Ana isn't afraid to speak her mind. This cat and mouse game seems to be tedious, but after Ana finally gives in to Christian's advances, it's pretty clear that there isn't really a cat and mouse to be had at all. The two romp pretty quickly. Ana is supposed to come across as a book-loving bore of a girl who has never had sex and Christian is her sensual savior. When he introduces her to his true passions, including a play room with things any sane person would be embarrassed to look at, she wrestles with the thoughts of what she may have gotten herself into. As most people know, though, she doesn't wrestle too hard because, quickly, she allows things to happen that you'd never ever want your mom to know about. Seriously, do not see this with your mom.

The fact that the book series was built from Twilight fan fiction just goes to show what range of emotionally thought-out material this is. The dialogue thrives in unpleasant, uncomfortable, and cheesy lines that are meant to be intense and revelatory. If the book is anything like the film, it's a blemish on the entire concept of literature. To their own defense, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, as Ana and Christian, gives the best performances they can. Johnson is, perhaps, the highlight, though half of the movie is awkward facial expressions and strange noises as the two engage in very graphic moments over and over again. There's a sense of vulnerability that must be respected, as Johnson especially doesn't leave much to the imagination. The supporting characters are basic filler. There's literally no background given about anyone. Maybe that's something you learn in the book. As a film, it looks like the entire project was bent on getting to the juicy stuff as quickly as possible. I'm assuming the book is the same. The characters are all complete stock characters for any number of gross romance novels.

There are plenty of things that could be critiqued here, and maybe even praised. The production design, including Grey's impressive living quarters (minus the playroom), is pretty stellar. But, at the end of the day, without any substance, everything just falls flat. This is a waste of good, new talent and a waste of money. To be honest, if people want to see sexuality in that way, there are plenty of places they can find it without having to venture to the cinema. To mask the shock and awe behind the precepts of a motion picture is a laughable offense.

The audience I experienced this with was pretty mixed, female to male. It was the first time I've been in a theater and didn't mind the amount of talking and cell phone footage. The movie is somewhat boring, cheesy, and then so extremely shocking that it's impossible not to laugh out loud out of complete embarrassment. Giggles were a regular noise heard throughout the entire two hour film.

This movie will make a lot of money and there will definitely be the film sequels, but don't let that fool you. It's not good. It's not really fun, either. I think I'm with everyone in saying that we couldn't wait for the credits to start rolling. Also, don't see this with your mom. You've been warned.

Rating: R

Runtime: 125 minutes 

© 2018 by Scottie Knollin.