Has Sam Taylor-Johnson’s hotly-anticipated adaptation of E.L. James’ global best-seller lived up to the hype?
Hands up who can remember life before the marketing for the Fifty Shades movie began? I have hazy memories of the days before Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson first came tumbling into my life – and now that I’ve finally seen the film, they seem even longer ago. Much like the non-stop chat surrounding the release of the books, the hype surrounding the movie has been relentless. And if we had £1 for every time we’ve been sent a tenuously-linked press release trying to link a necklace/hair dryer/shampoo to the movie, we’d be even richer than Mr Grey himself.
Fifty Shades Of Grey isn’t a great film, but it doesn’t pretend to be. Leads Dornan and Johnson do a solid job with their lead roles as billionaire bondage-fan Christian Grey and innocent Lit student Anastastia Steele; the cinematography is sweeping and beautiful. But it’s the story itself that is lacking – the only positive being that with no narrator, the movie loses the ‘inner goddess’ who swirls so irritatingly through the pages of James’ novel.
The plot is basic and chances are you already know it – and if you don’t, it’s so scant I don’t want to spoil it for you. The lack of storyline means that after 100 minutes of sitting in the cinema, you come out feeling not really any-the-wiser – and have no idea what the future of Christian and Ana’s relationship holds.
The movie was also frustratingly tight-lipped in addressing several key issues. Why is Christian so rich? The vague references to his telecommunications company doesn’t exactly do justice to the massive skyscraper-set empire he runs – even when a ‘work crisis’ emerges and he barks ’24 hours? That’s not good enough!’ into a mobile phone, we’re still none the wiser as to how, exactly, he’s reached his position of power at the age of 27.
There were some aspects of the film – aside from the obvious – that just didn’t make sense. Why were Ana’s parents apparently unphased by her relationship with a billionaire? Why did Ana’s room mate make Ana interview Christian in her place when she could have interviewed him via email herself? What was the deal with Rita Ora playing Christian’s sister? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
It’s easy to see why some have criticised the movie for sexualising domestic abuse: Christian is a classic control-freak, from the contract he presents Ana with before they ‘begin’ their relationship to him asking Taylor (nope, not Swift – rather, Christian’s driver) to sell Ana’s beloved vintage car without asking her. Christian’s need to dominate all areas of Ana’s life would be terrifying – but the fact he’s insanely rich, ridiculously handsome, owns a helicopter and indulges in tortured-midnight-piano-playing sessions somehow seems to make it tolerable.
My favourite detail of the film? The amusement with which Dornan and Johnson deliver their lines. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, not least when The Fall star Dornan, told by Ana that his hardware store purchases make him look like a serial killer, answers with a smirk: ‘not today’. Oh, Jamie/Christian/Paul…
See the film; after all the build-up to its release, you really might as well. It’s totally worth it for Christian’s set of personalised pencils alone…
In cinemas now.