Sorry ladies and gents – there’s no need to hold on to your hats – Fifty Shades of Grey is more likely to bore you to death than get you all hot under the collar. It may please those loyal to the books, but it failed to impress this non-romantic.
Review by Cherie Wheeler
“Mr Grey will see you now,” the receptionist says to college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who is the quintessential concoction of mousiness and mediocrity used by all unimaginative writers when creating a female character that is supposed to appeal to the everyday woman. Through a “twist of fate” this innocent and unassuming bookworm becomes charged with the task of interviewing one of Seattle’s most successful entrepreneurs; the arrogant, yet enigmatic Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Naturally, this youthful businessman is charmed by Miss Steele as she fumbles her way through the interview, and after a few additional meetings, he makes her a formal proposition to become his submissive sex slave.
I feel that audience members for this film adaptation will most likely fall into one of three categories; firstly, and obviously, there are the diehard fans of the books by E L James; then there are those filled with morbid curiosity who wish to discover the reason behind all of the hype, and will most likely spend the duration of the film with either a grimace, or a sneer planted on their face; and lastly, there are those slightly perverted souls who just want to see a bit of porn on the big screen. To the latter category – HA! The joke is on you. Not only is there very little sex throughout the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey, but the sex scenes that do feature are surprisingly tame; no more risqué than the average roll in the hay depicted in a HBO TV series.
Even more disappointing is the complete lack of on screen chemistry between Johnson and Dornan. It’s like watching a soggy bowl of oatmeal profess its undying love for the shriveled chunks of dried fruit you often get in those microwavable, “just add milk” porridge packs. There is no overwhelming passion between the characters; nor so much as a flicker of sexual desire… so now we have a film based on a pornographic novel that is lacking in sex, and devoid of sensuality.
The relationship between the two main characters is the foundation upon which the entire narrative rests, but sadly I was not convinced by either actor. I found Johnson’s character to be highly irritating, and at times infuriating, due to her non-existent personality, and her schoolgirl-like immaturity. Sexual inexperience should not automatically equate to behaving as a giggling airhead when confronted with an adult scenario, and such reactions by Johnson made her seem more like Mr Grey’s daughter than lover at times.
Adding to my dislike of the Anastasia character is the fact that she is completely spineless, and a little pathetic; her attempts at sass are like a wet towel trying to ignite a flame, and it is not until the final moments of the film that she finally gets her act together. On the other hand, Mr Grey has the potential to be a rather intriguing character, but much like Johnson, Dornan barely scratches the surface in his stiff and lifeless performance.
I made an attempt to read the book prior to seeing the film, but after three chapters of poorly constructed sentences, amateurish vocabulary, and four instances of the phrase “penetrating gray eyes” in so many pages, I was about ready to gouge out my own eyeballs and spit roast them over a camp fire. After this painful experience, however, I can confirm that the first act of the film mirrors the novel fairly closely, so at least there is a positive in store for those who follow the book series.
For me, the only saving graces throughout this film are Danny Elfman’s score, the beautifully lit scenes by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and the fact that screenwriter Kelly Marcel is able to provide dialogue that is a little less woeful than the lines used throughout the book. ONE AND A HALF STARS.
Fifty Shades of Grey is in Australian cinemas as of TODAY