Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer EhleDirected by: Sam Taylor Johnson
Written by: E.L James (novel) Kelly Marcel (screenplay)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Having not jumped on the Fifty Shades Of Grey hype when the Twilight fanfiction turned multi-million dollar book franchise (E. L James) first emerged, people often query where my hatred of the series comes from. After learning what this phenomenon was about, I questioned how a story that was basically just about sex could take the world (albeit, mainly middle-aged women) by storm. “It’s porn for people in denial!” I’d tell my Mom, after swearing I’d disown her if she read the books. However, as I became more educated in feminist culture, my disgust with the franchise developed into a strong disagreement based mainly on the unhealthy concept of one man’s obsessive and creepy control over his female lover.
Since 2012, women all over the world have been swooning and drooling over Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the sexy billionaire who seduces the timid Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), then introduces her to “his world” of bondage and S&M sex, asking her to sign a legal contract accepting to become his “submissive”. The film follows the pair as they try negotiate the terms of their relationship – if you can call sexual slavery a relationship – and that is pretty much all it is about.
This story was not intended to be as violating as it comes across. I understand that Fifty Shades Of Grey is a guilty pleasure for women and men who wish to indulge in something that is - apparently - the perfect balance of romance and pornography… but there is something very off-putting and offensive to watch - for me and surely others – about the way Mr Grey exercises his power over Anastasia. Whether this be in the bedroom or not, what I saw was a controlling boyfriend who wants full possession over his girlfriend, demanding she follow all of his rules and admit she is “his”. To me, this is not sexy or passionate, nor adorable or loving in any sense. It’s weird, unhealthy and undesirable, so this apparently “romantic” film became extremely uncomfortable to watch at times.
I tried to see past my disagreement with the storyline in general and focus on what was at hand. By no means do I want to watch a movie all about sex (I could just watch porn?) but this is a film about sex, so I expected to see sex and I expected to enjoy it. However, I was disappointed. You wouldn’t want to watch this film with your parents that’s for sure, but given the hype and the 18 rating, I wanted a bit more for my money. It was so boring. Johnson and Dornan depict a shallow chemistry and scenes (sex scenes included) simply drag. The best part was watching Johnson portray a hilariously drunk Ana as a character with spark and humour, however this was the first and last showing of that. Sadly, she fell back into the vapid female she was written as.
As far as sex films go (this was my first) I can’t say I am impressed. Similarly, as far as romance films go, if this is romance then there’s something seriously up. I tried to like this movie, but with its questionable storyline told in the dullest of ways, Fifty Shades Of Grey is arguably one of the most disappointing films to come out of cinema.