‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is the most anticipated, and hyped-up movie of the year being released the day before the most overrated day in February. Coincidence or marketing ruse? The film based on E.L. James best-seller novel unravels like a romantic comedy playing naughty girl – the teasing kind that never quite delivers on what is promised. This kind of approach may upset not only fans of the book but well-seasoned moviegoers too.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (‘Nowhere Boy’) crafts a story that is confusing – to say the least – in which the main characters fall into each other’s life by chance. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) swaps career for a day with her college roommate. The assignment is to interview young billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) whom she knows nothing about. As she walks through the stylish halls of the corporate building she soon realizes that her naïve persona – and outfit – are completely out of place in a world where poised assistants, opulent deals and charismatic businessmen exist.
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel tries to develop the characters through one-liners and clichéd setups. Grey’s line of “later babe” comes across flat instead of a commentary on the lovey-dummy endearments that couples tend to overuse. The story development is a bit problematic too. It goes from attraction to sexual awakening, from sadomasochistic to obsessive-control, and from love to rejection in a pace that is illogical. Even though love may be considered confusing, blind, and chaotic it is the characters’ back and forth that makes the story tiresome. The consequence is a well-deserved eye-roll – which Mr. Grey will not approve of.
The S&M tone is anything but scandalous. One would have to be the most prudish person on earth in order to find any of Grey’s “particular tastes” appalling. In a society where men and women can easily have sexual encounters through a smartphone app, or website, the idea of offensive erotic themes is laughable. The scenes in the film might be a watered-down version of the book’s setting. The red room seems more appealing than a painful warning of what might untangle there.
The acting – aside from casting choice – might continue the fans’ scorn. Johnson plays inexperienced girl that becomes a woman with a dull, and dainty sense that is not amusing. At times, it makes sense that she is the girl who is up for it. Dornan, who excels in the BBC’s ‘The Fall’, is not as alluring as Grey, or at least the idea that fans seem to convey. He carries the mysterious persona well, and the “not into relationships” warning sign on his chest as shield – yet something is missing in the character to make him believable.
Films like ‘Last Tango in Paris’, ‘9 ½ Weeks’, ‘Wild Orchid’, and even ‘Basic Instinct’ push boundaries and explore the intricacies of relationships and sexual behavior in the erotic drama genre. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ falls short in the category. Will the movie be a success in the weekend box office? Of course. Everyone wants to see it. And with two sequels already in the works it might be impossible not to see what develops after the disappointing dénouement.