Fifty Shades of Grey is in theaters and it is a box office smash. Luckily, the film is critic-proof because without the rabid fan following of the novel, the flick would be another cinematic dud. The filmmakers and studio smartly positioned the film for a Valentine’s Day release, counting on the notion that it is the one weekend of the year that scores of women could successfully drag their husband and boyfriends into the theater to see it.
The leads, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, seem to know they are in an awful film. Johnson is Anastasia Steele, a plain Jane (well, Hollywood’s version of “plain”) who falls for Christian Grey (Dornan), a billionaire lothario who doesn’t “do” relationships, he only “f***s.” For a reason that is never fully fleshed out, Anastasia decides to pursue a sexual relationship with Grey even though it leaves her sobbing every other scene. Â Even the young lady sitting next to me in the theater said, “Why the hell is she crying so much!”
The chemistry between Johnson and Dornan is soulless, the build up to their relationship is laughable and the BDSM (bondage, discipline and sadomasochism) is ridiculously sanitized. In one scene, Dakota Johnson’s character cries, “Show me the worst of it! Show me how bad it gets!” This results in six spanks. Watch any Madonna video from the early ’90s and you’ll get more BDSM than Fifty Shades of Grey. In 15 years, this will be a film they will both regret and refuse to talk about in interviews.
Grey is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, who has openly complained about difficulties working with the author, E L James, and creative restrictions from the film studio. Therefore, it’s quite possible Grey could’ve been a much stronger film about the complexities of a BDSM relationship had she been given free reign, but hands were tied to go for a marketable PG-13, even though it was still Rated-R. Fifty Shades of Grey was less about making a good, edgy, smart film and more about capitalizing on the following of the bodice-ripper on which it is based.
Lastly, all of the rants that the film is anti-feminist and promotes domestic violence is foolish. Fifty Shades of Grey is so awful, it has zero ability to possess any political or social impact. The movie is simply a profitable pop culture movement with the only good thing coming out of it being Â BeyoncĂ©’s remix of “Crazy in Love.”
Fifty Shades of Grey is in theaters now.