Starring: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden
Based on the Book of the Same Name by: E.L. James
Adapted for the Screen by: Kelly Marcel
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Metacritic Score: 46
IMDb Score: 4.2
Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language
Does this really need an opinion paragraph or two?
Well, I will say this: movies whose nearly entire film of characters interacting based solely on steamy, nudity filled sex has worked before. Art house film lovers will point out I Am Curious: Yellow, Bound, Boogie Nights, Y Tu Mama Tambien (one of my all time favorites) and In The Realm of the Senses are fantastic movies, while films more “mainstream” like Basic Instinct, Body Heat and Dangerous Liaisons have been successful with them also being good movies.
Yes, the criticisms of the book are well-known, but movies based on books have elevated the source material as well (The Godfather, for example). And with two actors who have been good in different work (Dornan is fantastic in the British TV series The Fall, Dakota Johnson’s shown promise in The Social Network and 21 Jump Street) there was always a strong chance that this movie could surpass the source material to make a great movie.
Now that I have used these last two paragraphs to be positive about the movie, let’s begin with the actual review:
Anastasia Steele (Johnson) gets a chance meeting with elusive billionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) which storms into a sexually charged relationship that quickly turns into a dominant/submissive S&M relationship.
There’s a few unspoken rules when it comes to making a movie that’s meant to titillate as well as captivate. Of course, the need to identify with the characters and empathize is one, but that’s any movie. Another rule is, sometimes, what’s left to the imagination is sometimes the sexiest thing about a movie. Also, if you’re going to push boundaries, such as make a movie based solely on S&M, give something other than the sex for them to experience.
Here’s another that I never though I would need to actually point out: when a movie about sex is being made, make sure that the characters in question resemble some sort of functioning adult. I’m not talking about being over the age of 18/25/30 or whatever: I’m talking about giving me a sense that these characters aren’t written like overgrown 13 year olds discovering what a clitoris is.
Never have I watched a movie about what is supposed to be an adult relationship and it immediately reminds me of when I was 14 and going through adolescence. It would be hilarious to watch if the film wasn’t trying to be so earnest and trying to make its love affair seem so “edgy,” without giving either character the slightest bit of depth as to why they are doing this.
This film has one serious fundamental problem that undermines everything it tries to do: there is zero depth to the characters or even their relationship that gives the viewer any tangibility to what the characters are thinking or feeling. Even the cheesiest and most mundane of love stories have a motive; a reason these two come together, whereas this movie, just doesn’t have anything connecting these two aside from sex.
I can hear someone out there saying right now, “Well, Wiz, sex could be just a reason why these two characters are together, isn’t that good enough?” It’s only good enough if it’s hardcore pornography or Cinemax Softcore porno films, which even those films provide more character depth than this movie.
Seriously, this movie is the best produced Cinemax After Dark movie ever created, but it also has the worst script of one. The movie looks very good and it’s shot very well with its cold steel looking backgrounds and deep hues of indulgent color, but it literally shows no purpose other than to disguise the fact that this is little more than an overlong, unsatisfying pornographic movie.
This film has some of the most cringe worthy scenes of dialogue that have ever been endured since Gigli. The way sex is talked about in this film is insufferably terrible; it’s literally a dialogue of “I’ll show me yours, if you show me mine.” mixed with enough darkness and brooding that it seems that Christian Grey is emoting a deadly serious version of Bruce Wayne, if he was played by Adam West.
Here’s some choice dialogue you’ll be treated with.
Christian Grey: What about you? I’d like to know more about you.
Anastasia Steele: There’s really not much to know about me. Look at me.
Christian Grey: I am.
Christian Grey: Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.
Anastasia Steele: I’ve fallen in love with you.
Christian Grey: No. You can’t love me.
Anastasia Steele: Why am I here, Christian?
Christian Grey: You’re here because I’m incapable of leaving you alone.
At least when Nicholas Sparks novels make crappy romance movies (like The Notebook…yeah you heard me), the dialogue is at the very least passable. Or the characters are meant to be likable or adults in a sense.
Both these characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, are essentially overgrown teenagers who sound like they found the Kama Sutra in their parent’s basement. Anastasia, with her “aw-shucks, I’m just a virgin girl who needs a man to tell me what to do” tendencies and Christian, with his “I’ll break her in the way I want it, while stalking her every step of the way” mentality shows a highly disturbing, if not disgusting relationship dynamic that seems really out-of-place for two supposed adults in their mid to late 20’s.
I haven’t even gotten to the performances of the film, which are horrible, but I don’t feel like they are the fault of the actors. Jamie Dornan literally has one look throughout the entire film and it doesn’t come off as mysterious, brooding or seductive: it comes of as stalker like. Again, this guy has done some good performances and is quite charming, so I am willing to pass on him saying that this is the fault of a clearly terrible script.
Yet, I don’t think the same can be said about Dakota Johnson. Her performance is literally ripped out of an early 40’s to 50’s romantic musical dramas that have become quaintly out of date. Again, this performance can be more the fault of the script, but her love-making scenes with Dornan are laughably bad, as well as the sexual dialogue that she says throughout.
To sum this up, Fifty Shades of Grey belongs with the likes of Gigli, August: Osage County, Lee Daniels’: The Butler and other movies that are just literally horrible in every sense a film can be bad. You can very well question that maybe, as the reviewer, this sort of sex-capade drama “isn’t my thing” or isn’t something “that I get,” which very well may be true.
But the defining thing a good movie does is at least give the viewer a glimpse as to why the characters are having this sort of relationship. Or why Anastasia decided to have her first sexual experiences be with a cruel sadist. Or why he’s stalking her, aside from the fact that “he’s possessive”.
And the worst thing yet…there’s two more movies of this crap.
0/5 – Quite literally, the worst movie about sex ever made.
The Wiz Says #33