I guess Hollywood is so bankrupt of fresh ideas, they will gamble and even adapt films from wretched books. Fifty Shades of Grey arrived in theaters in a swirl of media hype for its subject matter and the films stars, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. The film was generally dismissed as a missed opportunity but has now made its way to DVD and On Demand in both the theatrical R rated cut and an expanded Director’s cut edition. If you have watched one, you won’t need to see the other.
The film stars Dakota Johnson (real life daughter to Don Johnson…yes, THAT Don Johnson)as a young college student who by happenstance is asked to interview Christian Grey , a somewhat reclusive billionaire business magnate. He is young and handsome but is almost immediately smitten with this blushing young literary student, Anastasia (Johnson). They embark on a journey of sexual depravity that is masquerading as art.
That pretty much sums up the plot. They agree to a written contract of just how far Anastasia is willing to go so, let the lasciviousness begin. “Shades” is simply an odd and silly film with only Johnson to shine and she does shine. Her performance is strong and intelligent and Dornan does the best he can with his role but the script adaptation from E. L. James’ novel, penned by Kelly Marcel seems to have lost most of the real steam from the novels. They have stripped away (no pun intended) most of the life from these two characters so that what remains is some very dull dialogue between two characters that never seem real. I did not for one second believe these two were attracted to each other.
Instead we are treated to gratuitous scenes of animal like sex which is poorly choreographed and lazily directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. I am not saying she is lazy but the way this film is shot leaves nothing to the imagination. There does not seem to be much chemistry between the two leads so for me, there was nothing really at stake. Christian does not seem to be that bright so how he manages to run a billion dollar company was a mystery to me. Anastasia seems much smarter and more comfortable around him than he does around her, so why she is even attracted to him to begin with, is bewildering. Go figure.
There are many parts in “Grey” where Anastasia does not even like what they are doing. She continues only because the script requires it, not because of the growth of the characters. Everything is there to service a plot that is dull, uninteresting and predictable. The sex scenes are almost laughable and in a few instances I did burst out laughing.
Dakota Johnson is the best thing about this film along with Danny Elfman’s score. The rest of the cast is largely wasted and to be truthful, ANYBODY could have been cast in the supporting characters and they would still get the same result, I’m afraid. At the end of the day Fifty Shades of Grey is a real snoozer. It is not interesting or groundbreaking. It is not an all out assault on the viewer like some other films I have recently reviewed, but it is cheap, tawdry and not worth your time, regardless which cut of the film you watch.
There are two more films (at least) that are planned and as of this posting, Jamie Dornan is NOT scheduled to return as Christian Grey. Maybe a new star , director and writer will make a better film. Sadly, this is NOT that film.
Fifty Shades of Grey- ** out of 5
Fifty Shades of Grey- Adults ONLY for both R rated and Uncut Versions
Fifty Shades of Grey- Run Time R- Rated version- 125 minutes
Run Time- Unrated version- 130 minutes
If you must watch this, it is available on both DVD and On Demand for BOTH versions.