Fifty Shades of Grey has got to be one of the hottest products in the entertainment industry at the moment, and one of the most anticipated films of the year. Since the book came out back in 2011, people haven’t been able to stop talking about the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades, and since the movie came out yesterday, the hype has only increased. I don’t know if I’m missing something that everybody else sees, but I really just don’t get it.
Wikipedia (you know, the most reliable of the pedias...) calls this an erotic romance, and the decision to release the film on Valentine’s Day seems to play into this idea of the romance genre. Somehow, that just doesn’t sit quite right with me. This is a film about sex. Granted, usually where there is sex there is an element of romance involved, but in this instance, there isn’t. There’s a central character who is very pro sex, but very anti romance. That’s what makes this film so different. Well, that and a hefty amount of S&M which has been, until now, too taboo a topic to show in mainstream cinema.
The film’s innocent protagonist Anastasia Steele is played by Dakota Johnson.
The film focuses on the relationship of the naive, almost impossibly innocent and charmingly clumsy Anastasia Steele, played by Dakota Johnson. The male lead and hugely popular character of Christian Grey is played by Irish actor Jamie Dornan. It cannot be denied he was a perfect casting choice here. His grey eyes and impeccable torso are exactly as the book describes, and he does the mysterious, intense thing all too well. Thing is, while both actors play their parts well, when the two come together, there just wasn’t the conviction or spark which was needed for this to work. I went through the whole film watching but not really caring. It wasn’t believable for me. It was also so painfully cliché in moments, I couldn’t help but chuckle. When the film is trying to achieve for the opposite effect, that’s not a good sign.
The tortured soul of the male lead Christian Grey is played to perfection by a very intense Jamie Dornan.
Their very first meeting starts with Anastasia literally falling through the door, flat on her face in front of Grey, which to me was a slightly cringe-worthy sign of things to come. There was something extremely Edward and Bella about this relationship complex... the charmingly clumsy girl-next-door who becomes so completely infatuated with a man who is almost inhumanly good-looking, ridiculously rich and by all appearances, perfect. It doesn’t take us, or the aforementioned unfortunate girl, long to realise that beneath this shiny facade lies a dark, troubled soul which equals one big mess.
Where Edward and Bella’s relationship is very PG13, this is your R18 counterpart. The main road block to Anastasia’s dream man in quite a hefty one... he’s into hard core S&M and has no interest in being her boyfriend, only her ‘Dominant’ in what it is fair to say is a very messed up relationship. Don’t get me wrong, to each their own and all that, but it’s not an unfair statement really. Mr Grey even acknowledges himself at one point saying, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up.”
Bar the one obvious factor of explicit sexual themes, this film didn’t feel like anything new to me. Which leaves me thinking the only answer to my earlier question – what is all the fuss about – is just that: sex. This film is full of it, and the age old saying “sex sells” is as true in 2015 as it has ever been. It’s that simple. If you need any proof, the numbers speak for themselves. This film earned a whopping US$239.7 million globally over the weekend, smashing records. Impressive... yet somehow not surprising. Sex sells, that much we know. When you bring in risky, taboo sex that most people don’t know a lot about, you have the recipe for success. Sex + curiosity = money.
Let’s be honest... sex sells. Add to that an element of genuine curiosity about something taboo, and you have a winning formula.
In a nutshell, this film is not very interesting, nor is it particularly convincing. It’s one of those films you see just so when the subject inevitably comes up amongst workmates or friends, you can contribute your 2 cents. Plus, Jamie Dornan really is very nice to look at, and I’m pretty sure a lot of women will go to see this film just for him. The best part of the whole thing is undoubtedly Beyonce’s sultry remix of her 2003 hit Crazy in Love. For a movie, finding the high point in the soundtrack isn't saying much.
My rating: 2 stars