More like Fifty Shades of Brown. After months of teaser ads and chatter, the much anticipated release of Fifty Shades of Grey was intriguing enough for me to give the ‘hottest chick-flick’ of the year a watch. Sadly, I was severely disappointed, and furious that I had wasted 125 minutes of my life watching this Mills and Boon midday Matinée, at best. I have not read the book, but I have been lead to expect lots of ‘explicitly erotic’ sex scenes involving Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM) (BDSM). Instead, I was left wondering if the author knew what BDSM in fact is, or if perhaps the author is so naive and innocent, that this was the limit to her imagination. Needless to say, the BDSM antics of the movies’ main characters, are tame.
Anastasia (Ana) Steele (Dakota Johnson – Need for Speed, 21 Jump Street, The Social Network), is a 21-year-old college senior living in Washington with her best friend Kate. A gesture of kindness sees Ana take Kate’s place interviewing Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan – The Fall, Flying Home, Shadows in the Sun), a Seattle-based billionaire entrepreneur, for their student newspaper. Ana is instantly attracted to Christian which causes her to lose her train of thought and struggle through the interview. Afterwards, feeling intimidated, she leaves Christian’s office unhappy with her results, but consoled in the fact she will probably never see him again. However, Christian is captivated by Ana’s persona and must make her his. And so the chase begins.
Their encounters are characteristic of an abusive relationship with nearly every interaction between Ana and Christian showing emotional abuse on a variety of levels, including stalking, intimidation, and isolation. This is not surprising however, when learning of Christian’s childhood where he was adopted at the age of four into a rich family after the death of his prostitute, drug addicted mother. And at 15, became a submissive in a five year long relationship with a dominatrix friend of his adoptive mother. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
Beginning her writing career in 2009 with contributions to Fanfiction, Erika Mitchell, aka E. L. James describes the Fifty Shades trilogy as “my midlife crisis, writ large. All my fantasies in there, and that’s it.” This “Mummy Porn”, has become a world-wide sensation outstripping Harry Potter to become fastest selling paperback of all time. The first movie in James’ trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey has broken all Australian box office records surpassing opening day takings for both Sex and the City films, the first Twilight film, the first Hunger Games film and even the biggest Bond film of all time, Skyfall. Considering Fifty Shades were originally based on stories featuring the characters from Twilight (Edward Cullen and Bella Swan), it is no wonder it has become the latest phenomenon. I guess audiences still need their romance fix, but with a twist.
Like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Fifty Shades has thrust the relatively unknown actors, Johnson and Dornan, into inevitable perpetual stardom. However, unlike the Twilight stars, their on screen chemistry lacks fire and conviction. Their performance seemed uncomfortable and will certainly need some stoking before they appear in the sequel together.
For those of you who missed it, Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. She is truly blessed to have acquired her stunning beauty from such Hollywood pedigree. During the movie, it is impossible to miss the occasional glimpse of uncanny resemblance Dakota has to her mother.
If you like Fifty Shades of Grey, you might also like: 9½ Weeks (1986), Two Moon Junction (1988), Wild Orchid (1989), Basic Instinct (1992), Bound (1996), Sliver (1996).
The Movie Lad rates this: One out of a possible five lashes with a feather duster while tied to a bed, naked and blindfolded.