I’ll start this review by saying I cannot believe I have actually seen this film to begin with. I haven’t read the Fifty Shades trilogy, have never had any interest in doing so and have not been anticipating this film for years as some apparently have. However, fuelled by curiosity and the fact my Odeon points balance meant I wouldn’t have to actually part with money to watch it, I joined a friend at the cinema to see what all the fuss was about.
Everyone (well who care that is) know the plot of this film adaptation of E.L James’s first book in this worldwide juggernaut. Young, naive, innocent Anastasia Steele interviews the older, powerful, successful, billionaire Christian Grey for her university newspaper graduation edition and from there becomes tangled in his world. The crux of the story – he wants her to contractually agree to be his submissive, let him do a varied list of sexual activities to her and do everything he asks. In return he will apparently be devoted to her, but without the romance, as he doesn’t do that. Did I mention he’s also rather attractive?
I will be honest that I entered the cinema expecting to hate this film, as it’s just not my thing at all. In reality, I didn’t hate it, I was more bored by it. It is simply a repetitive film in which girl falls for guy, girl believes she can change said guy, girl sleeps with guy, girl is uncertain whether to get tangled up further in said guy’s world (pun intended), guy pursues girl (rather creepily I may add), guy sleeps with girl again to show her what fun they’d have, lets her meet his family, calls her his girlfriend, but then stresses he doesn’t do romance and girl continues to be uncertain about what to do. Nothing else really happens except variations of these scenes over the course of the two hours, which felt far too long for me.
I have no idea whether the book lovers feel that Jamie Dornan is good casting in the role of the infamous Mr Grey, but I didn’t mind him. He has the brooding look down well, looks great in expensive clothes and has no problem pulling off those naked scenes. Let’s face it, if Mr Grey was a poor, unsuccessful, unattractive guy, I imagine his offer would seem far less enticing to Ms Steele! Plus he does a pretty good American accent (yet another American being played by a Brit!). Dakota Johnson who plays Anastasia is also fine in the role, bringing both a naivety and sass (well initially before she becomes more sucked in anyway) to the role and I certainly switched between feeling sorry for her and wanting to give her a good slap to bring her to her senses. On the whole their chemistry did seem to work, although at times I did find it less convincing.
For most of the film, this is fairly tame, mindless nonsense, which didn’t impress or offend me and Jamie Dornan is easy on the eye. There are some incredibly cheesy scenes and dialogue in this film, which don’t inspire me to rush out and read the books. I did however genuinely enjoy some moments – the DIY store scene early on is rather entertaining as an example and I enjoyed the bits where Anastasia doesn’t take his games seriously (her drunk phone call was a fun one). However, the final portion of the film, when it moves from simply kinky sex practices to the idea of a man playing with a younger girl’s emotions, to then be clear that he will need to punish and hurt her, as that’s just how he is and what he needs sometimes, didn’t sit well with me at all and I can easily see why so many women are concerned as to the message the film / books give, not only to how women allow themselves to be treated, but also what men think is acceptable behaviour towards women. However I’d like to hope that, the fact that this is a work of fiction, like any other fictional film, will mean that the audience will take it for the titillation it is (or is trying to be), rather than using it as a guide to the realities of real relationships.
The film does have a fantastic soundtrack including the latest song by Ellie Goulding, Annie Lennox’s classy I Put a Spell On You and I didn’t even mind Beyonce’s Crazy in Love remix. In fact I think the music was probably the highlight for me. Overall, I’d say you’d definitely have a better time downloading the soundtrack, staying in and spending the two hours with someone you actually have a true and meaningful connection with!
Fifty Shades of Grey is screening throughout UK cinemas and the trailer can be viewed here.