I’ll just be honest here: the movie sucks. It really falls short of my expectations BIG TIME.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Fifty Shades. The book is amazing, and I honestly feel that the idea behind it is nothing but bold. People often have this prejudice against Fifty Shades of Grey for its blatant take on sex; they are against the whole idea of Grey even before knowing what it is really about.
I. All about Fifty Shades
Fifty Shades of Grey is more than just uncontrollable lust and brutal BDSM. That covers at most only 15 shades of it. The rest, my friend, is the idea of captivity and the means of release.
The infamous main character, Christian Grey, has had – as he puts it – ‘a rough start in life’. He is adopted (his real mother’s a crack addict), used to be ‘profoundly hungry’, and the first woman he is ever with – a Mrs. Robinson – was his Dominant* for six whole years. His body is marked with burns and scars that he doesn’t allow anybody to touch. He ‘exercises control in all things’, and is used to having his way. There is something depressing, though, about the way Grey seems to have everything at hand, yet still fails to attain inner peace. The man is trapped by his lack of trust in people, finding it hard to open up, and it is thus that he can neither heal nor help himself.
This is where Anastasia Steele comes in with all her purity and innocence. Quite a cliché plot I suppose: the role of girl in this story is mainly to ‘save the boy from himself’, and in trying to save him, she is also partly corrupted. Anna is portrayed as this smart, beautiful girl who has no experience to love and sex whatsoever. The men who throw themselves at her are never the ones she wants. Grey is the first man in her life that has awaken her sense of femininity and, with his sexual expertise, drives her crazy in lust. Anna also warms the cold heart of Mr.Grey, and altogether brings out lighter, brighter shades of him.
All Anna wants is to understand the sadness of this multi-dimensional man whom she falls in love with. She wants to be with Christian without all the fuss of bondages, but the only way her man knows to ease his emotional scars is to inflict pain on others through BDSM. ‘It gives me pleasure’, says Grey. In the end, Anna decides to let Grey take her to the extreme in his Playroom – Fifty Shades’ symbolism for S&M – and the pain proves too much for her to take. The first book ends with Anna leaving Christian, naked and in tears.
This is just a brief summary of the main characters and plot. It’s just to show that there are novelty and depth to Fifty Shades of Grey in spite of its pornographic reputation.
II. Fifty Shades the movie
As I said, this movie doesn’t do the book much justice. The main essence of the characters is there, but the passion is missing. The Anastasia Steel in the movie (starred Dakota Johnson) captures the quirks of Anna in the book; however, the transformations in her character – from awkward to sophisticated – are quite intermittent and abrupt. Dakota has done an exceptionally good job though, I thought her acting was superb. There’s light humour in the movie, and most of the time it’s Anastasia’s awkwardness that amuses people. The only thing I am not so happy about is that movie’s Anna is so much calmer and is more restrained lust-wise than Anna in the book. This could come across as a lack of passion on her part. Another disappointment is Jamie Dornan. I just feel that he is not ‘dark’ enough for Grey. His presentation of the character is rather bland, and unfortunately I only find it hot when he is angry.
ALSO, can I just point one thing out? It is really annoying that every time the two characters engage in any form of conversation, there has to be romantic orchestral background music 50% of the time. I mean, COME ON, if you’re going to portray this unbelievable love story, at least try to make it seem realistic. The background music really just makes the movie seem like a love-deprived woman’s erotic fantasy :P
Regarding the movie as a whole, the grey theme is kept consistently throughout; symbolism like lip-biting, the Playroom, the grey tie, etc. is also of constant presence. But these are not what you’re interested in, you want to know about the sex, so let’s get right to it. Honestly, it sucks, and you can’t even blame the producers for it. There’s a fine line between a piece of pornography and an 18+ movie; thus, in the end, what is shown on screen is just a poor representation of what is written in the book. The sex scenes are basically just short, chopped clips of skins and close-ups. If they are intended to turn me on, well, they fail. Towards ¾ of the movie I got bored and thought it was too long. I left the cinema hungry only for food.
What’s more, if I am not mistaken, the first time Anna and Christian engaged in intercourse, he apparently did not used a condom. In the book, though, condoms are constantly mentioned out of concern for safe sex. Not a big deal, but still…
In short, I’d describe Fifty Shades of Grey the movie as a hybrid between a chick flick and soft-core porn. The lack of emotion makes it crappy at both. I am not sure if this would even appeal to women, let alone men. Should this movie prove to be successful, it would just be due to sensationalism and the audience’s curiosity. If you really want to explore all Fifty Shades of Grey, then go for the book. Otherwise don’t watch it at all.
Score: 3/10 – E for effort.
* It is recommended that you know a little about BDSM before attempting to read the book or watch the movie. It just makes things that much easier to understand. I could try to explain the general idea to you, but the Internet would surely do a better job.