Posted Oct 28 2015

50 Shades of Grey - This Movie Has It Rocks Whipped Out Of It

Dir: Sam Taylor Johnson

Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Rita Ora

Where mommy porn meets consumer porn meets, well, really rather dull porn. There were two givens right from the get go about any adaptation of E L James’ phenomenal best seller. First off, it was going to make a ton of money (it has); secondly, viewers – be they critics or general audiences alike – were bound to be disappointed (they are.)

Taylor Johnson has made a film that looks like a catalogue, flirts with risqué sexual shenanigans and is stifled beyond belief by James’ insistence on her laughable dialogue being retained (“I’m fifty shades of fucked up!” – indeed you are.). In what may well one day be recalled as the least erotic erotic movie ever made, romance curiously is the dominant one. The film is less concerned with exploring the darker sides of sadomasochistic sex and more concerned with being an almost conventional love story. And as such it’s continually schizophrenic. So concerned are the filmmakers with political correctness that supposedly submissive Ana becomes the dominant one, relegating the powerful Christian Grey to something akin to a rich, dull wimp. He wants her to be comfortable with her nudity – but always keeps his pants on. He warns her he never sleeps with anyone – then sleeps with her the first night. He whips her – but she really whips him, thus making the film’s central male character almost null and void. And then, every few minutes, we stop to plug another Apple product (Oscar for product placement please.)

Taylor Johnson (her name used to be “Wood” then she changed it to “Johnson” – stop sniggering at the back!) brings a classy sheen to everything, but in removing any sense of titillation, also removes any hint of passion. Dornan gets the worst part of the deal with the neutering of his character, whilst Johnson does eventually impress when she moves beyond those impossibly breathy vocal stylings.

So yes, it made a ton of money and yes, it disappointed many.  Proof that what was on the page and, more importantly, what was in people’s minds – particularly in the (t)horny realm of sexual fantasy – is on a hiding to nothing when being reduced to a definitive image. Chalk one up for the imagination.


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