Fifty Shades of Grey
Reviewed for Shockya by Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer
Director: Sam Taylor Johnson
Screenwriter: Kelly Marcel, from E.L. James’ novel
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden
Opens: February 13, 2015
One day while walking along Fifth Avenue in New York City with a friend, I stumbled upon the world renowned pair of marble lions that stood in the Beaux Arts building at the entrance to the Public Library. “When would the lions roar”? I asked. “When a virgin passes by” my friend replied. After all these were the late 1960s, the “pill” and casual sex were “in” and virginity was definitely “out”.
So how do we explain Anastasia “Ana” Steele (Dakota Johnson), a literature student who is about to graduate from Washington State University, but kept her virginity intact? Ana, the central character in Fifty Shades of Grey, is unprepared for the basic things in life. When we meet her for the first time she is assigned to substitute for a sick friend and interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) in his ultra-modern Seattle office. Ana not only falls upon entering his office, she is unprepared without a tape recorder or a pen. She is intimidated by this overconfident man, and upon emerging outdoors she lets out an orgasmic moan and looks to the pouring heavens. In other words: Ana is infatuated.
What follows is their bizarre “courtship” that includes Christian’s emerging as an overly controlling person, with his passion for dominance/submission and sadism/masochism. He will even go so far as giving Ana a legal five-page contract to sign, with detailed conditions of what she is to do, eat and where she is to live. Brave Ana takes it all in stride and in the first half hour of this creation she sends Christian an E-Mail of “thanks-but-no-thanks”. But alas she succumbs to this seducer’s power, his helicopter flying skills, and piano playing. In the second half of the film we are introduced to Christian’s “play-room”, filled with ropes, whips and chains, to which Ana must report upon his command.
Cue audience: unintentional laughter during the first half of Fifty Shades of Grey, and stare in disbelief at the screen during the second.
Dakota Johnson launches a credible performance as Ana, portraying a young student who read too many Jane Austen novels. She is not sexy but proves irresistible to Christian. Jamie Dornan, playing a twenty-six-year old C.E.O., is too “mature” for the role of Christian at thirty-two. His acting does not have the range required for Christian and he is cold, distant and too mechanical even in most passionate scenes.
Notable supporting performances are provided by Eloise Mumford as fun loving roommate Katherine, Jennifer Ehle as Carla, Ana’s supportive mother, and Marcia Gay Harden as Grace, Christian’s stiff mother.
Filmed beautifully by Seamus McGarvey Vancouver never looked prettier, with specific scenes shot in Gastown, Bental 5, The Fairmont Hotel and The University of British Columbia.
Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled to open during Valentine’s Day weekend, but if you don’t like what you see in 2015 do not despair. Fifty Shades Darker is a scheduled sequel for 2016 and perhaps Fifty Shades Freed on a later date.
Rated R. 110 minutes. © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer
Story Grade: C
Acting Grade: B
Technical Grade: B+
Overall Grade: C+