Alright, let’s get this over with.
I’d just like to start by saying that Fifty Shades of Grey is exactly what you are expecting it to be. If you think you’ll love it, you will. If you think it’s going to be ridiculously awful, it will be. If you think it portrays BDSM in an abusive light, that’s probably the way you’ll see Anastasia and Christian’s actions. So if that’s sufficient enough for you, no need to read on. I know I’m not going to sway those with strong predetermined opinions one way or the other.
But for those of you curious about the film, allow me to enlighten you. To all who think that Fifty Shades of Grey is just the adaptation of that “classy porn” novel, there’s actually a plot. Washington State senior Anastasia “Ana” Steele is asked by her roommate, fellow senior and Journalism major Kate, to interview the man giving their school’s commencement address. The man, as you probably guessed, is Christian Grey – 27-year-old self-made millionaire. He prides himself on being a people person, ironically.
After developing a mutual attraction, the two enter into a partnership (not a relationship), complete with a contract, terms, and everything. Christian promises to devote himself completely to Anastasia if she willingly surrenders herself to him as his submissive. With some reservation, Ana agrees to be Christian’s new plaything, but gets increasingly frustrated when his attention and affection to her outside the bedroom becomes episodic.
In the lead roles are Dakota Johnson as Ana and Jamie Dornan as Christian. As Christian, Dornan is just what the character demands of him. The character of Christian Grey is a walking penis, and all attempts to develop him beyond that role are thwarted by the laughable dialogue given to Dornan, who makes no effort to make the part believable. Twice, Ana asks Christian what his reasoning is behind his sadistic behavior. Both times, his response is “because that’s who I am.” Thanks for the context, buddy.
Ana, on the other hand, is a rather interesting character. She’s stronger and smarter than you may think, and Johnson brings about a clever performance that is able to convey Ana as awkward, headstrong, and complex. In one of the movie’s better scenes, she calls a formal business meeting with Christian to discuss the terms of their arrangement, turning the tables by controlling him in his professional setting. She’s aware of the power she has over Christian, even though in his eyes, she’s his object. She knows when to speak up, when to say when, but doesn’t realize why Christian has had 15 other girls in her role until the end of the film, which comes about and concludes in the most frustrating of ways.
Again, my rating is probably of no use to those of you who already have your mind made up about the film. There’s a good chance you already know if you’re going to see Fifty Shades or not (if you haven’t already); so at this point, I’m just trying to make sense of this to myself. Because even though the film is ridiculously scripted, runs too long, and contains a score that was probably ripped off from a 1970s X-rated videotape (save for the lead up to a remix of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”), there’s a consistent pace and signs of good direction. The first half hour of the film, completely devoid of sex, had me raising my expectations. Though as it went on, those expectations were not met. For me, at least, Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting, but it wasn’t that good either. When it comes to iffy romance movies, I’ve had better.
To hear more of AJ’s reviews, you can check out his blog at AJBeltis.Blogspot.com or listen to his WJMF show Mondays at 1.