"Fifty Shades of Grey"
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2015
Running Time: 125 minutes
For all the blindfolds and whips dominant Christian Grey owns, Fifty Shades of Grey is less adventurous and explicit than a letter to “Penthouse.” Director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s clinical adaptation of E.L. James’ novel boasts nothing in the way of sex that hasn’t been seen before onscreen. While the lovers played by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan dabble in light S&M, Fifty Shades of Grey refuses to push the boundaries that the likes of Adrian Lyne and Zalman King set in mainstream cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. Fifty Shades of Grey follows the same blueprint as such once-steamy Lyne affairs as 9 ½ Weeks and Unfaithful, as an innocent first resists and then succumbs to her sexual desires at the hands of her forbidden lover. The prolonged love scenes and bondage play are tastefully shot and beautifully photographed, but are very tame in nature compared to what can be found on HBO or in any exploration of female sexuality by Lars von Tier. And, unlike The Duke of Burgundy, Fifty Shades of Grey never embraces its kinky side. It doesn’t help that there isn’t any sexual heat between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. It might have to do with their different approaches to their characters. Johnson’s suitably apprehensive as the shy and retiring college student Anastasia Steele who is mesmerized by her billionaire beau, but not to the point that she’s willing to go all out in his “playroom.” Johnson, though, finds a playfulness in her sexually inexperienced young woman that brings some levity to Fifty Shades of Grey. As Grey, Dornan barely cracks a smile. He takes everything so seriously that instead of finding any humor in the ludicrous dialogue that he must utter, his earnest delivery of his lines provokes unintentional laughter. By the time this first in a planned trilogy ends, Dornan gives us little reason to believe that Grey deserves Steele. Also, Dornan benefits from keeping his briefs on for most of Fifty Shades of Grey while Johnson spends much of her time partially or fully naked. No double standard there, right? Having not read James’ novel, I’m not in a position to say whether Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel have watered down or refined their source material. As it stands, this film version is pure fantasy for people who are too embarrassed to admit that they want to try something different in the bedroom with their partner.
Aired: Feb. 12, 2015
Web site: http://www.fiftyshadesmovie.com/