At least Mr. Grey practices safe sex
Fifty Shades of Grey opens on Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) being sent by her sick roommate, Kate (Eloise Mumford), to interview Christian Grey for an article for their school newspaper. Steele is awkward and instantly feels out of place when she enters into Grey’s place of business. When the interview begins there is instantly this weird spark between them but Anastasia quickly doubts herself and writes off the interview as just an awkward experience. However, shortly after Christian keeps finding ways to bump into Anastasia around town. Sooner rather than later, the two are caught up in this relationship that neither of them can fully understand but both want for very different reasons.
BDSM was once a taboo subject matter but after Fifty Shades of Grey it has become a topic that even 12 year olds are well aware of. Before I go any further, please think about that last sentence for a minute. In 2002, I was first exposed to the world of BDSM when I first saw the film Secretary. I believe I was 17 and the whole submissive concept was so strange and bizarre to me at that time. Since then, I dated several women and am now married. I won’t lie or deny that I dated some really weird women in my time and a few women of those women were into the whole BDSM thing and even showed me some very explicit videos on the topic. BDSM isn’t for everyone and I personally understand some of it. I can see how some people find being tied up or handcuffed kinky but when someone asks me to cut them, hit them extremely hard, or pretend that I am raping them, I have to draw the line.
With that being said, I went into Fifty Shades of Grey knowing quite a bit about the book and even read a few pages of the book out of curiosity when it was first released. I still to this day don’t understand why everyone is so damn enamored with it. Hell, even my wife read it, which I just shook my head in disgust every time she picked up her kindle to read another chapter. Personally, I found the book not only to be poorly written (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t read all that much) and would label it as nothing more than a erotic fiction tale that could be found on any erotic story website online. Also, yes I am well aware and realize that Fifty Shades started out as Twilight fan fiction.
Let’s be 100% honest right away, the story that this film sets out to tell can only be as good as the source material available. I don’t think I really need to say this but the source material isn’t very good. The simple fact that this book was even made into a film still bugs the crap out of me. There are so many talented writers out there whose ideas go unnoticed yet Hollywood adapts a softcore erotic fiction story into a feature length film so they can make a billion dollars off it. I understand money makes the world go round but when will we as a society stop paying for crap.
Above everything else, what is truly amazing about Fifty Shades of Grey is that when the story is broken down it is a very simplistic tale that every woman at some point in her life had dreamed about. A sexy rich guy falls for the average looking girl and showers her with everything and anything she could want like fancy cars, houses, and helicopter rides. The idea itself is extremely jaded but some of it plays off like a Pretty Woman type scenario. While hinting at it at times, I will say right now that Fifty Shades never comes close to being a twisted modern day Pretty Woman.
So I guess everyone wants to know what makes the story so bad? It really comes down to just how all over the place it is combined with awkward moments and silly situations. It is easy for a viewer to buy into the whole average girl falling for the rich hot guy scenario but when you start talking about signing a nondisclosure agreement to be in a relationship with someone, I can’t even begin to understand why Anastasia would stay or how this doesn’t turn the film into a direct to dvd comedy. What makes the contract scenario even worse is that the story makes Christian come off like this weird emotionless stalker that just keeps randomly showing up out of nowhere.
With over a dozen moments of Anastasia biting her lip and even more emotionless stares from Christian, one would hope that at least the sex scenes would be steamy and serve as the film’s saving grace. I hate to say this but even the sex scenes are bad and aren’t even the slightest bit sexy. I would even go so far to say that a lot of those scenes were downright creepy! Another thing that I have to point out is that there is nothing quite like hearing Beyonce’s “Haunted” played during a strange Christian and Anatasia BDSM montage. I have no idea what they were going for with that scene but can safely say that the director and editors failed horribly.
Again, I do blame the source material and feel bad that neither Dakota Johnson or Jamie Dornan could save this film. These two actors were put in these roles hoping to really sell this story to the audience. They both fail. The issue with these actors is simply that there just isn’t any chemistry between them. It is clear that Sam Taylor-Johnson didn’t know what to do about it so the film is filled with moments where the actors say things like “Enlighten me then,” “I’d like to bite that lip,” or my personal favorite, “I like to fuck you into the middle of next week.” All of this seems to be done in a desperate attempt to be sexy or funny.
I think out of everything about this film you can clearly see that Dakota Johnson was trying so hard to do something with the material. She is the one that had to bare it all and tries so incredibly hard to bring her character to the next level. The problem is that she just can’t do it because of the writing. Johnson plays such a naive and stupid character that falls for all the usual tricks and just comes off as someone that likes to be used and cannot think with her head. There is only one moment where she truly shines and that is near the film’s conclusion when she goes off on Christian before the film ends on a silly cliffhanger.
While Johnson does try to give it her all, it seems that Jamie Dornan was dead on arrival. At first, I was fine with his lack of emotion and facial expression but as the film went on I just couldn’t help but feel more and more disconnected from the character. What made this worse is that Dornan made the character so damn unintentionally creepy instead of sexy. I don’t know how he accomplished it but he did. Johnson owns the film’s worst moment where he sits on the bed next to Anastasia and tells her that his mother was a crack addict and a prostitute who died when he was 4. Again, this should have been a really serious moment in the film but the editing, pacing, and delivery of this story from Dornan was just awful.
At the end of the day, I went into Fifty Shades of Grey expecting it to be bad and truth be told, it was pretty much as bad as I thought it would be. I lost track of how many times I actually cringed while watching this film and I know that many want to try to argue that there is more to this film than just a softcore porn fantasy, but I definitely beg to differ. I feel bad that we live in a society where women freely give their money and embrace a fake sense of female empowerment that this film gives off. I feel terribly sorry for anyone who gets dragged to this film and dishes out their hard earned money for something like this. My suggestion is to watch part of Pretty Woman and then watch some porn together. That combination will serve as a much greater romantic and erotic scenario than anything Fifty Shades of Grey has to offer.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2 out of 10.