Film review: Fifty Shades of Grey - neither erotic nor romantic

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 February, 2015, 12:43pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 February, 2015, 10:27am

Fifty Shades of Grey

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Category: III

1 star

If you’re expecting to see a hardcore erotic film, you’ll be disappointed; if you are looking for a romantic movie to watch with your date, you’ll both be horrified. Fifty Shades of Grey makes itself unforgettable, mostly for all the wrong reasons.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), the film adaptation of the first book of the erotic romance trilogy by British author E. L. James has a typical boy-meets-girl plot, only with a darker sexual twist. University student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a handsome, rich, and young entrepreneur. They are immediately attracted to each other, and Anastasia soon learns about Christian’s dark side – particularly his taste for sado-masochism, bondage and discipline, and dominance and submission.

Because of her desire for him, Anastasia is willing to try having a relationship on Christian’s terms, but not before haggling over the many clauses and sub-clauses of a sexual consent contract which he has drawn up. Anastasia continually asks Christian to explain the reason for his sexual preferences but he remains mysterious throughout, which starts to get a little tedious after a time.

Even more tiring is the extremely clichéd dialogue littered throughout the movie – phrases so familiar and empty they will make you laugh. Members of the audience audibly scoffed when Christian asks Anastasia, “Where have you been?” and she answers, “Waiting”. The scene where Christian “rescues” Anastasia from a passing car will remind many of Twilight.

Still, Johnson is believable as the innocent and slightly awkward college graduate who is just beginning to discover her sexuality. Many cinema-goers may relate to her struggles between her desires and losing her sense of self arising from those desires. Dornan’s sombre stare is daunting – as Grey’s is supposed to be – but his expression stays unchanged in the movie and very soon becomes robotic.

Watch the film if you don’t want to be left out of discussions during the Lunar New Year, but don’t take your Valentine – you will soon realise how anti-romance this movie is. You have been warned.

Fifty Shades of Grey is in cinemas now.