ByReel Banshee, writer at
Looking for meaning through film. A compilation of film reviews and opinions.
Reel Banshee

In the wake of an important interview with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), Kate falls ill and instead of rescheduling asks her roommate and best friend Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) to substitute. Anastasia travels to the metropolis of Seattle and upon interviewing Mr. Grey, an attraction ignites between the two. He begins to stalk herm and woo her with lavish gifts and an eerie mysteriousness until he introduced the contract. The contract entails the singular tastes of Mr. Grey and basically state that Anastasia agrees to become his submissive. Unsure about fully committing to the contract, Mr. Grey grows impatient and gradually gives her teases of all the pleasures she will experience.

For all the people that will, unfortunately, see this film I think it is fair to state that the one thing most of us are not expecting is for Fifty Shades of Grey to be boring. While I refuse to read the book, I have heard of some of the erotic and strange sex scenes that the book features. And even if the famous tampon scenes does not appear in the film, at the very least the promise of constant sex should make this film a somewhat enjoyable one. But the reality is that Fifty Shades of Grey is easily one of the dullest films I have seen. The plot is essentially nonexistent and because the contract is introduced about thirty minutes into the film, the rest of the film’s running time is literally spent on Anastasia contemplating whether to sign the contract or not. Why is this film two hours when it could’ve lasted one?

Spending so much time on that dilemma may have worked in the book where the reader can stop and start, but in the film it is just frustrating. Nothing really happens in this “story” and as a result it is up to the characters to somehow sustain interest, which to be honest is impossible since both Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are as compelling as a beige wall. First of all, these two are not so much characters as they are mannequins embodying something even more false than stereotypes. Anastasia is exceedingly plain to the point where she makes Bella from Twilight seem like Meryl Streep. She is cardboard, impressionable to the point of idiocy, no common sense or a functioning brain for that matter. We quite literally receive zero reasons to care about this woman. Then there’s Mr. Grey who looks like a generic composite of a rich young white man and behaves like a serial killer.

Two already boring and uninteresting mannequins are made even more so by two of the worst performances to ever disgrace the screen. I’ll admit that Dakota Johnson’s casting was perfect, because she really embodies the absolute blankness of Anastasia Steele. There is zero to no effort placed on this performance or in even trying to make this character somewhat believable. She speaks in whispers that sound more nagging than alluring, displays a face devoid of emotion or thought and looks perpetually uncomfortable to have agreed to make this film. You can palpably feel her going through the motions and just wanting it all to end. It is like she purposely concocted a female mannequin who could never give you tingles down bellow. What about Mr. Grey? Same. Look I’ll admit that Jamie Dornan is hot, but there is something about him in this film that makes him incredibly unattractive. Perhaps it is the fact that Christian Grey is a stalker rapist, but more than that Dornan seems uncomfortable in the film like every day of shooting the regret of this decision killed him internally. His accent falters time and time again, and seeing him try to be funny/charming is repulsive.

As you can imagine, with such fascinating mannequins at the helm the sex scenes do not deliver which is a shame because I’m sure most people came just for the sex. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of nudity and sex scenes in this film. But are any of them steamy? Will they make you horny? No. The sex scenes feel really tame compared to all the hype. Fifty Shades of Grey the movie is aiming for sensuality over explicit sexuality. The approach is different from what may be expected, but one gets the feeling that at least with this approach there is a degree of respectability involved. By showing restrain the film does not feel overtly nasty like things perhaps are in the book, which would’ve easily made everything all the more terrible. In the end though, the main factor making the sex appallingly unsexy is the leads. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have zero chemistry. They not only look like two actors forced into this uncomfortable situation, they also look like they cannot stand the presence of each other. There is no spark, no slight attraction, absolutely nothing between them. Their distaste for each other is so palpable that no amount of moaning can cloud the simple truth. That is why a lot of the sex scenes feature numerous distractions, like songs or constant shots of body parts over faces, so that you don’t notice how uncomfortable the leads are.

I have to admit that I was expecting Fifty Shades of Grey to be worse than it actually is. It is still pretty bad, but verges more on bellow average than straight up worst film ever. On that respect, I’ll give some points to director Sam Taylor-Johnson who tried to give the film some class and restrain. Not much you can do with a sinking ship though and at least the soundtrack is good. Beyonce’s song plays on one of the key sex scenes and I laughed at how much the song eclipsed the visuals. In the end though, all the attempts to try elevate Fifty Shades of Grey fail simply because the source material is so unnaturally bad it cannot be ignored. I don’t really understand why this series is so popular and seeing this film made me even more confused. There is nothing romantic about this film, there is nothing charming about these characters. It is all incredibly creepy, misogynist and dumb. Don’t waste your time or money on this. The film does not deliver any of its promises, instead it’ll subject you to story of girl meets boy that is actually about a serial killer stalking and wanting to sodomize a female mannequin.

Rating: D


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