Fifty Shades of Grey Review
Here’s a question for you, is it possible to turn a book full of garbage into a film with substance?
That would be a resounding no.
I didn’t expect much from the adaptation of a novel that began as erotic Twilight fanfiction, so in that regard, Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t disappoint.
At lot has already been said about this film, specifically that it is domestic violence thinly disguised as love story. This is entirely accurate. The plot, if you could call it that, hinges on the unhealthy relationship between the young, naïve Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and the enigmatic Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
Christian is incapable of having coffee or seeing a movie like a regular human being, so he informs Ana that the only type of relationship they can have is a Dominant/Submissive one. Totally appropriate for a woman who previously a virgin. How do they meet? It doesn’t matter, because I guarantee most people who have gone to see this film are merely waiting for the inevitable fuck fest that they were promised in the trailer.
Oh, there are other characters too, but you won’t remember their names. They exist merely in service of the main relationship and as a chance for the two lead actors to perform at least some of their scenes fully clothed.
Christian Grey was never going to be taken seriously with choice lines like, “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard” and my personal favourite, “If you were mine you wouldn’t be able to sit for a week”. Jamie Dornan is wooden and lacks the commanding presence required for the domineering Christian. It’s not entirely his fault. As seen above, his dialogue is completely over the top and unintentionally hilarious.
However, Dakota Johnson was somewhat surprising. One of the biggest gripes I had with the novel had been how Ana came across as a spineless, idiotic concubine for Christian to play with at will. There are most certainly remnants of that in the film as well, but at times Johnson seems to almost be making fun of Christian (and Fifty Shades by extension) along with the audience. It’s as if she knows how ridiculous it is that she’s starring in a film that’s billed as ‘romance’ but features its two leads discussing the merits of vaginal fisting over appetisers.
I know a lot of viewers are going to be uncomfortable with the infamous punishment scene, but the most problematic aspect of the Fifty Shades is the emotional abuse that characterises the film. Christian is a possessive, manipulative and controlling to a pathological degree. He wants to own Ana and dictate every aspect of her life. He buys her clothes, a new laptop, a car he’d prefer she drive etc. Oddly enough, he never attempts to upgrade her flip phone to an iPhone.
It is unfathomable to me that Ana could develop any sort of emotional attachment to a man like Christian. He’s also really dull. Grey is an apt name for him. That’s another one of the film’s many problems; I didn’t care about Christian, nor did I care why he was so incapable of carrying on a normal romantic or sexual relationship. You grew up with your wealthy adopted family but your birth mother was crack whore? Boohoo. Christian’s alleged dark past of doesn’t excuse his misogynist behaviour.
But I don’t want to discuss Fifty Shades as if it is an important film. It’s not. If only the box office would reflect this.
Review by Tegan Lyon