Review: “Fifty Shades of Grey”

I wanted to see Fifty Shades of Grey for the same reason I or anyone else might peak into a copy of Kim Kardashian’s forthcoming book of selfies, titled Selfish. 

Not because you’re into sexually submissive behavior or pictures of Kim, but because there’s something intriguing about what you haven’t seen before like a collective of selfies or a film about this subject matter. Its potential to be unique piques your interest, but after you see it you realize Selfish is just a book of snapshots by an amateur and Fifty Shades is a clumsily written adult film.

Kelly Marcel wrote the adapted screenplay from E.L. James’ book, which was criticized in literary circles for writing that read no more advanced than a grade school level. Marcel wasn’t able to save the rough dialogue on the big screen.

Directing was Sam Taylor-Johnson, who won’t be back for the rumored sequel. Most frustrating of her personal stamps on the film was the way she decided to direct the sex scenes. The camera wasn’t shy, but the editing was a mistake. It created choppy sequences of intimacy with cuts and splices in picture and sound that were much more a distraction than smidgen of artistic touch.

Jamie Dornan, as a mysterious and intimidating Christian Grey, is poor. It’s his co-star, Dakota Johnson, who saves the movie from being a completely horrendous disaster. Johnson, as Anastasia Steele, gets better as the movie builds, stronger when she realizes her advantage and begins to exercise control of herself rather than the stuttering, iffy girl initially stepping in to interview Mr. Grey.

There’s a scene in Grey House’s red-lighted meeting room when Ana and Christian are going over the details of the contract he’s attempting to get her to sign. Their sexual tension steadily rises as he describes the things he’ll do to her and just when he’s most aroused she’s flips the switch on him and walks out. It’s when she’s showing off her power in the relationship that Johnson’s at her best.

Marcel kept witty, colorful lines for Johnson to read, about Christian’s play room and a quip about making pancakes, which plays well to the actresses strength. It seems in Fifty Shades she picked a role she shouldn’t have at this stage of her career. She’s authentically bubbly the morning after she has sex for the first time, and it’s scenes like this that make you wish you saw her in more comedies.

I commended her for jumping at the role when she was cast and have no qualms about it after seeing the film. Johnson was the right shade of every color the film needed, making her the lone bright spot. Frustratingly, I won’t watch her in the potential sequel because I just can’t stand everything else.

“Fifty Shades of Grey”: ★1/2

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