Fifty Shades Of Grey, based on the best-selling novel of the same name, arrives on our screens amongst a storm of hype, expectation and a healthy sprinkling of controversy. There will be those out there that have made up their minds about the movie before ever setting foot in their local cinema; that it will be trashy, tasteless and just plain bad. However, anyone heading along with an open mind may find themselves somewhat surprised.
Anastasia Steele is a literature student on the verge of graduating when a chance encounter leads her to Christian Grey, an enigmatic billionaire with a singular taste. Christian, immediately taken with Anastasia, makes a proposal and a contract is drawn up between the pair. It specifies a relationship of sexual dominance and submission. For her part, Anastasia is curious, and eager to experience at least some of what Christian is offering, but her upbringing leads her to believe that she can change the man, maybe even enough for him to fall for her. It’s clear from the beginning that their relationship will be a struggle.
Most of you who have read the books will be glad to know that the story is streamlined a little, and Anastasia’s inner monologue which frustrated readers, has been dropped altogether. Dakota Johnson has found a way to bring out a sharpness in Anastasia that at once makes her more interesting and complex. Jamie Dornan, in the coveted role of Chriatian Grey, has less to work with and his character is a solitary, almost lonely figure. He exudes power and confidence and perfectly portrays a man who is used to getting his own way, mixing a little of Mr. Darcy and a lot of Don Draper into the role.
Thankfully, there does appear to be a spark between Johnson and Dornan, and the sex scenes, though much fewer than people may expect, are at least faithfully recreated. Whips, handcuffs and a whole lot more feature in Christian’s play room, but the filmmakers exercise restraint here and none of the sex scenes push the boundaries. In fact, given the material they had to work with, they’ll seem a little bland to fans of the books.
While the decision to cut away some of the excess baggage of the story means we get to see a more compelling relationship between Christian and Ana, it unfortunately means that the rest of the cast are largely underused, and simply flit in and out of the main characters lives at different points throughout. Add to that some of the campy dialogue that has creeped in from the books and the whole thing should be a mess. But it isn’t.
Fifty Shades Of Grey is at it’s best when capturing the shallow nature of it’s source material, and giving in to the desires and cravings of it’s protagonists. While Ana and Christian’s relationship starts off cold and bleak, the movie turns into a bit of a guilty pleasure as we watch the dynamic shift, and Anastasia grow more comfortable in her own skin, and begin to assert her own dominance. The film may not be the wild, untamed, sexual beast that the book is, but Fifty Shades Of Grey is no turn off either.
(Images courtesy Universal, Empire, Collider, Tumblr)