Fifty Shades of Grey: Film Review

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The reaction to both the book and film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has been extremely polarising. I get the impression that it is almost cool to say it’s crap, so I’m going to do the uncool thing by saying I liked it. It was not perfect by all means, but it was not as bad as I was bracing myself for.

I always knew the content would be tricky because there is no way a studio would agree to all the BDSM activities described in the book. Student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) becomes attracted to businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) after she interviews him for a college article. She wants a normal relationship with him but he wants to establish a contractual dominant-submissive agreement, where she is essentially his ‘sex slave’ without the added romantic benefits.

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The plot of the first book is pretty flimsy but that’s because author E.L. James just wanted to get in as much sex as possible. So there isn’t an awful lot for the film to go on and if they cut all the sex out there wouldn’t be a story. There was still plenty of it, but hardly any in the BDSM fashion, and none of it was particularly full-on (although there were some full-on nudity). Many moments of the novel were missed and it works because it would be too repetitive if we just kept seeing him using a different instrument on her. It started to get repetitive as it was, and they only use the ‘red room of pain’ properly twice. People have complained about the lack of sex, but that’s not true – it’s just done more tastefully than expected. We rarely see a lot of the action properly – the camera cuts to close up and tries to make it stylish rather than seedy as soon as they get going.

The main issue for me was the dialogue. Some of it was cheesy as hell and Dornan got lumbered with most of it. It was also vastly inconsistent. I loved some scenes completely, such as the negotiation business meeting, Anastasia drunk-dialing and the finale, but some were god awful and some lines actually made the audience laugh (unintentionally). The film does have some humour dotted throughout to lighten up the affair, but not a great deal.

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When Christian was recast as Dornan, I was happy because he looked more like Grey than Charlie Hunnam. While that’s still true – he is hot and looks how I pictured Grey – he didn’t have that sense of danger or power that Hunnam would have brought. I would have liked more of the sociopath side, seeing him relish hurting her, but we see it ever so briefly. His performance was not very convincing. Grey is supposed to be cold and closed-off, but that’s all Dornan seemed to do, although there were plenty of opportunities for a range of emotions. It made me struggle to see why Anastasia – who is innocent, naive, fun – would be remotely interested in him, especially after his BDSM secret is revealed.

I was impressed with Dakota. She injected life into her character as much as possible and simply shone. She also gave Anastasia a lot of balls and all the pathetic inner monologue from the book was wiped out. I’ve seen people say Steele is weak in the film, but I don’t see it that way at all. She is fully in control of this situation as Grey is so desperate for her to stay. Even if you removed the kinky sex, I would still like their love story – they are both trying to make each other vastly different people and are struggling to cope with it.

So no, it was not amazing but I never expected it to be. I still enjoyed it. Dakota was fab and I love the way the sex scenes were filmed. The letdown was Jamie and the dialogue, but again, that wasn’t all the time. I would suggest everyone go in with an open mind.

Out now 

SEE ALSO: Pics from the London premiere

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