Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Both very true statements. It’s not quite fair to bash something that you haven’t at least tried to watch, read, or hear. This is why I had to experience the Fifty Shades of Grey pandemonium for myself. And now that I’ve seen it… honestly… it actually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But it is bad… really, really, really bad.
Let’s start with the plot. A virgin college student begins a relationship with a billionaire sadist who doesn’t want to commit. They spend two hours haplessly trying to change each other. If you’re looking for something more, you won’t find it. As far as stories go, this one is as droll as they come. Every good story is supposed to have a certain arc: A setup, a conflict, and a resolution. But here, there is no resolution and there is also barely any conflict. In obviously attempting to set up its sequel, it forgets to actually provide something worth making this whole film seem like it could’ve lasted about half an hour. In fact, take out the bondage sex scenes that have been watered down to fit within the constraints of an ‘R’ rating, and you probably just have half of an episode of As The World Turns.
The movie actually starts off promising. Dakota Johnson pulls off the humble ditz enough to make her likable. And perhaps the film’s most saving grace is its soundtrack and production value. However, billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan doing his best to make Robert Pattinson seem like an Academy Award winner) is one of the most unlikable characters I’ve seen on screen: exhibiting every symptom of a psychopath. And I’m not talking about his love for BDSM, I’m talking about his knack for stalking and breaking an entering. He’s a level ten creep, but I guess we’re supposed to let it slide because he’s supposedly passionate, rich, and attractive. Their entire relationship is a classic example of guy likes girl because she tells him no/girl likes guy because he is the first to make her feel significant. But they have no actual chemistry.
As expected, the writing doesn’t help move things along. Dialogue is basic and shallow as if copied and pasted from the cheesiest lines in romance films. None of this should be surprising considering author E.L. James started off writing Twilight fan fiction. The lack of good writing is even more evident in the complete absence of any decent secondary characters, none of which are worth mentioning because they hardly matter to the “plot”.
With this movie, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. It starts as a romantic comedy, quickly transitions to softcore porn, before finishing off as a rehash of Twilight. I can understand how those who engulf themselves in the fantasy world of romance novels might get a kick out of this. But anyone else, who requires characterization and actual story, should be prepared to be bored out of their mind and have eye rolls on stand-by.
FINAL GRADE: D+