--> Jamie Dornan Dakota Johnson Jennifer Ehle Marcia Gay harden
Fifty Shades of Grey certainly did not measure up to the hype it has received. I would imagine that real S&M practitioners would find it rather tame and maybe even dull, and we would likely not find nearly so many other people interested in it without the seduction of a billionaire generous with his money. Aside from the harsher portions, the love scenes are erotic, and Christian (Dornan) is very gentle and skillful with Anastasia (Johnson).
The story opens with Anastasia filling in for her ailing roommate, on an interview with Mr. Christian Grey for the school newspaper. She is clearly out of her element and very ill at ease, which turns out to attract the man who wants to be the dominator in a relationship with a woman. She is clearly smitten right from the beginning, despite her unease, and in the coming days, will submit to his pursuits. He is very open about what he is looking for (even drawing up a contract for her to sign), always sweetening the deal with fancy presents and getaways, and giving her the option to leave at any time.
For a college student, Anastasia is very naïve, and reacts as if she has never heard of the arrangement he is trying to make with her. During the first part of the film, it is off-putting to see her appear like she is only 10-12 years old. But at least across time, she becomes more age appropriate and begins to leave the shrinking violet stance, making Christian cool his heels while she “negotiates” the contract with him.
This is just the first of three films that will be made based on E. L. James’ novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, so the film ended rather abruptly with the outcome ambiguous. The filmmakers must be needing to stretch the material in order to make three films out of it, because it drags in places. In fact, other than a meal here and there or a short trip, not much of anything takes place except Christian pursuing Anastasia and their lovemaking interludes.
Dornan and Johnson are very attractive, with good chemistry and reasonably good acting; she is good at portraying naïveté and innocence, and he at smoothness and gentle persuasiveness. Supporting cast is also very good. Music by Danny Elfman and Beyonce and cinematography by Seamus McGarvey all enhance the production. I enjoyed director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Nowhere Boy” about John Lennon’s childhood, but I feel like she doesn’t make the grade in this film. Perhaps this wasn’t the best choice of books to film.
Unless you’re keenly interested in the topic, you can skip this.
Grade: D+ By Donna R. Copeland