Sunday, 15 February 2015

Fifty Shades Of Grey - review

For many film reviewers, going to see Fifty Shades Of Grey this weekend was the very epitome of an S&M experience.
Entering into seeing something that could cause them great physical pain with the knowledge that it could also give them great pleasure by giving it a merciless beating afterwards, or even worse... actually enjoying the film!

Fifty Shades Of Grey is sadly not a romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with a girl who works at a DIY store and helps him pick out the right colour to redecorate his red room with.

It is actually based on the unbelievably successful piece of cliterature by E.L. James and sees a young girl become infatuated with a man who wants her to become his "submissive" and enter into a world of pain and pleasure.

Watching the film you would not be surprised to learn that the book started off life as a piece of Twilight fan fiction. The signs are all there; virginal brunette girl who falls for a cold, distant but really, really ridiculously good looking guy with a secret lifestyle. Walks in the Washington State forests. Dialogue that sounds like it was written by a 12 year old girl.

Yes, the book might have been incredibly popular but people were not buying it because it was the next great piece of literature. It wasn't even the next Harry Potter or the next Dan Brown novel. They were buying this for the sex scenes.

So while Kelly Marcel could try and mount a campaign for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar next year for excising all the awful "inner goddess" monologuing and producing something which is not a complete train wreck out of such a poorly written source, unfortunately the terrible dialogue remains. A loud guffaw emitted from the audience when Christian Grey's response to what makes him the way he is was "I'm fifty shades of fucked up!". I have to admit that I rolled my eyes at that line. Is Christian going to put me over his knee and punish me for that too?

However like I said, the audience for this movie are not going for the dialogue and performances they are there for the sex (even to the point that some of the audience in my screening were taking pictures of the scenes on their smartphones!),

So how do the sex scenes come across? Is it worth all the fuss?

No, not really.

After taking ages teasing the audience, when they finally get around to having sex it is nothing more erotic than a scene from 90's soft core series The Red Shoe Diaries. After that two spend what seems like forever working out exactly what sort of punishment and reward goes into the submissive's contract (a situation the actors are surely familiar with as they will be having their multi-picture clauses invoked on Monday when the box office figures are in) it is time to visit the Red Room... and nothing good has ever happened to a woman who goes in there, just ask Laura Palmer.

Despite the genuinely impressive cinematography throughout the whole movie (nothing less should be expected from Seamus McGarvey who has also shot the likes of Atonement and Anna Karenina) the actual sex scenes are full of sex but are never sexy. At one point Dornan handcuffs Johnson from the ceiling like a piece of meat that had me thinking the last time I saw a scene like that it was in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The character of Christian Grey does have a lot of intrigue and potential (sadly not explored here but undoubtably in the sequels as to why he is the way he is, what happened to the previous submissives, etc) and part of me wishes Christian Bale had played the part of Grey as if he were reprising his role of Patrick Bateman because the two characters seem to have a LOT of sinister common ground. The scenes where he talks to Ana while she is asleep, you can imagine him casually saying "I like to dissect girls. Do you know I'm utterly insane?" because he does so many sociopathic and psychopathic behaviours.

Sadly in the end, by Hollywood standards and being unfamiliar with the book, the film finishes on a rather abrupt and slightly laughable conclusion (given the subject matter) but is clearly designed to leave audiences begging for more. After all who hasn't experienced a time when an exciting and racy engagement has been halted by a sudden and unsatisfying climax?

2 stars

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