Fifty Shades of Grey Review
Fifty Shades of Grey review by Lisa Johnson Mandell
The good news is that it’s better than I’d expected. The bad news is that it’s not as good as enraptured fans hoped. It wasn’t much of a stretch for Fifty Shades of Grey filmmakers to create a movie that is superior to the books from a quality perspective; even the most ardent fans acknowledge that the trilogy is awkward and poorly written at best. But they loved the novels for the boundary-breaking sizzle and steam. Unfortunately, those two elements are oddly lacking from the film.
Okay, I don’t think followers of the franchise expected full frontal nudity or detailed cinematic play by plays of the sexy submissive/dominant scenes. But a few handcuffs, spankings and a whole lot of sighs, moans and lip biting hardly do the source material justice. Christian Grey’s famous Red Room of Pain must have at least a half a million dollars worth of accouterments in it, yet he only uses a couple of them. The most excited reaction I heard from viewers at the screening I attended came when Christian took a bite out of a piece of toast.
The entire palate of the film was cool and gray, which doesn’t do much to incite passion. and I don’t think we should blame the actors. Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele was actually adorable and endearing. If Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey was a bit too aloof and dispassionate, I think that’s the fault of director Sam Taylor-Johnson, best known for Nowhere Boy, an excellent film exploring John Lennon’s teenage years. She opted for a long, slow pace with little drama or suspense. It’s quite the challenge to make a boring movie from one of the hottest and most controversial book series to come along in decades, but Taylor-Johnson seems to have been up for it.
Oh, the film looks good, unlike the first Twilight movies that just felt skimpy and cheesy. The production design of Fifty Shades of Grey shows that real money and effort were spent. And a Danny Elfman score? Twilight never had it so good. Comparisons between the two franchises are inevitable, since Fifty Shades of Grey was originally written as Twilight fan fiction, a phenomena that escapes me. In case it’s escaped you too, “fan fiction” consists of ardent readers making up their own stories based on characters and situations in their favorite books. In this case, E.L. James originally wrote Christian and Ana as Edward and Bella. As a writer, it’s beyond me who has time to write that sort of thing, let alone read it.
But apparently E.L. James is knows better than I, because her efforts banked her hundreds of millions and counting. Fifty Shades of Grey will doubtless be a box office smash, and I’ll have to sit through at least three more movies (they’ll divide the last book in two, as you do these days). And if it adds a little Valentine’s Day ardor to the economy and our lives, who am I to complain?
1 Hour 50 Minutes