Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Writers: Kelly Marcel (screenplay), E.L. James (novel)
Stars: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle
How does one give a review for a film, based off a book, that received so much media and public exposure (mainly bad) and yet try to keep it as objective as possible? It is certainly tough to not be opinionated by things written and said and to also not let your own thoughts interfere. With that said, while this is not the greatest film in the world, it was certainly better than I was expecting it to be.
Our story starts with Ana Steele (Johnson) going to interview successful business man and entrepreneur Christian Grey (Dornan) on behalf of her sick roommate. Ana is shy, nervous, clumsy and slightly naive. Grey comes across as your perfect no nonsense business man, he is intense and intimidating towards Ana, yet shows a mellow side as he appreciates she is out of her depth. He even mails all the answers to her questions that she forgot to ask him. What a guy!
Filled with thoughts of Grey, Ana seems to be living temporarily in a dream world while at work when Grey suddenly appears at the store asking for various strange items. Ana seems visibly flustered and it is from this point that Grey steps up his campaign of tying to seduce her into his playroom. This is where the story starts to get messy and can be easily picked apart, but this is not the films fault per-se, but more the fault of the book and screenwriters.
As for the main point of the story (if there really is one), Grey certainly is controlling, creepy and a stalker. I guess some women like that kind of thing from a guy, unless he’s ugly and poor, in which case they then call the police and get a restraining order. So much for equality huh? Ms. James can spin it out however she may like, but Grey is not romantic, loving or considerate. Grey is a controlling asshole with no respect for women and one has to wonder what may have happened her own personal life to think this behaviour is normal and acceptable.
As for the script, it really is laughable at times. Now we know the book was written by a seven year old who is grammatically challenged, but E.L. James’ input into the screenplay from her own book shows badly. She really needs to lose the controlling aspect (much like Rowling) and just let expert screenwriters do their job. As a rip-off self-obsessed literary hack, why she thought she was as good as, or knew better than a professional (or why the production company allowed her) is a mystery. The writing truly is awful.
The acting is also not the best, but more than passable from the majority of the cast. Much has been said about it but I didn’t feel that it was as bad as it has been made out to be. Dornan doesn’t have much to do really but proves adequate in the brooding pretty boy routine. Dakota could have been better but plays her part well enough of the shy, sexually inexperienced girl next door. Unfortunately neither of them are working with the best material, so given that then their performances are acceptable.
Production values are high but in all seriousness, given the salaries paid to the stars (Dornan only got two hundred and fifty thousand basic) one really does struggle to see where the forty million plus went. Perhaps the best thing of this feature (other than it ending) was the soundtrack, there are some good tunes littered throughout, though as far as the actual score goes, Danny Elfman once again fails to deliver his usual high standard.
As far as the sex scenes go, I personally found these very tame. There is better and more erotic stuff to be found on The Red Shoe Diaries if this stuff interests you. If this is what made millions of bored housewives go loopy in the loins for, I think you have to feel rather sorry for them and their mundane lives. This is not much better stuff than a modern day Mills & Boon with a BDSM slant. And even then it’s a little tiresome and unexciting.
Ultimately, E.L. James really needs to research and understand what she is writing about and learn about real Dom/sub relationships. Much has been said about her giving the scene a bad name, and I wholeheartedly agree. Considering what the woman says, she really has no idea what she is talking about. But then, this is a woman who wrote a fan-fic based off Twilight. Need I say anymore? With the film tripling its budget though, this is one franchise that has had the last laugh and won’t be going away anytime soon.
The Sage’s Rating: 5/10