Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Synopsis: College student Anastasia Steele has to interview Billionaire Christian Grey for one of her papers. After their meeting begins a journey of passion, desire, love and pain…lots of pain.
The popular erotic fiction novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James has been long in development and after four years of speculation finally makes it to the big screen. It has taken long to develop due to its source material, I have not read the novels however it is common knowledge that the books delve into the ideas of S&M quite deeply and a feature film would not be able to translate word to screen without appearing in a XXX theatre. The filmmakers including director Sam Taylor-Johnson decided to tone down the sex and bondage and concentrate on its two lead characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Unfortunately the two lead characters aren’t that interesting and what is left is a mediocre pilot episode for a series that could have been a lot better on cable television such as recent book adaptations; Game of Thrones, True Blood and Dexter.
The film overall is essentially a will they or won’t they pull back and forth between Christian and Anastasia. Anastasia meets Christian, in a particularly awkward scene which shows the lack of experience of actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Thankfully the actors eventually grow into their roles and the film does get interesting when we discover Christian’s darker side and Anastasia’s curiosity in it. The film is slick and glossy throughout and the sex scenes are well executed and harken back to the 90’s erotic thrillers Basic Instinct and Sliver. However the film has nowhere to go, with little plot other than Christian and Anastasia’s will they or won’t they all we are left with is….nothing. The abrupt ending can only lead to further sequels but doesn’t satisfy the casual viewer looking for a self-contained story involving introduction, conflict and resolution. Instead we get introduction, conflict and cliffhanger. Which as I stated earlier could work well for a pilot episode of a television show but unfortunately I expect more from a feature film. The film reminds me of the Twilight franchise with the awkward female lead falling for the brooding and dark male lead. However even the first Twilight film had a side mystery which kept the casual viewer interested. This film simply follows its two leads and expects the audience to buy into their twisted romance. I didn’t.
The film overall looks great with glossy cinematography and sensual lighting throughout. The director does his best with the material he has. The two leads begin awkwardly but grow into their roles by the end. For fans of the novels only.
Rating: 1.5 Stars