Two thoughts occurred to me while watching Fifty Shades of Grey. One; do people really find this stuff sexy? Two; what a cringe fest – not the most articulate of definitions I know but the film doesn’t exactly inspire intelligence. It’s certainly not all bad but won’t be winning film of the year award any time soon – and what genre does Taylor-Wood’s film even fit into? Romantic drama? Maybe. Torture porn? Could be. The truth is, despite the junctures of genuine romance (which there are a few) the film is almost promoting abusive relationships. And I’m not sure that’s something I’m okay with (in fact I know its not). Supposedly a film for women, in many respects it actually objectifies them. Not cool E. L. James. Not cool.
In no way is Fifty Shades‘ deliberately coming across as a negative piece but it certainly promotes unhealthy and objectifying relationships throughout. For many it will just be a bit of a laugh; something to make jokes about. But the truth is, this is a poorly written and cliched film that is too skimpy on the details to truly be classed as romance and way too intrusive when it comes to degrading sex. I’m not exactly a feminist but come on, this is poor. The whole plot is pretty simple, too. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) – an English Lit student – interviews billionaire businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), although its never fully explained how he has attained his wealth. After an intense first meeting the pair quickly fall in ‘love’ and thus what ensues is a lot of deliberating on Ana‘s part about whether to become Grey‘s submissive. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and Rita Ora turns up as Marcia Gay-Harden’s daughter.
The biggest problem is Dornan as an actor portraying Grey. Its the whole sadist man-whore with a personality that resembles a puddle that is challenging, for Dornan has proved his validity in Hollywood with previous projects but I think anyone would struggle with conveying a puddle (going off track a bit here). With little in the way of real charm or charisma Dornan gets lost at sea and its Johnson who takes charge throughout (ironic really). Taylor-Wood and screenwriter Kelly Marcel have been sure to add asides of wit as not to appear to be taking themselves too seriously with this project and it definitely comes as a light relief, for certain scenes do spark with legitimate humour. Putting aside the whole sex theme thing for a moment, as a film away from these scenes Fifty Shades‘ is sloppy and really rather dull. Together there is definite chemistry between the two leads but if you asked what else happens in this 125 minute feature apart from the sex you would be hard-pressed to find someone with an answer.
It’s mildly entertaining fare with a better soundtrack and an even better lead but this isnt Taylor-Wood at her best – you just need to watch Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy to see that. Despite it’s failings, Fifty Shades of Grey has quickly become a box-office smash hit so it must be doing something right. That something just isn’t class.