by Sherry Lipp
After viewing the film Fifty Shades of Grey I’m left scratching my head as to why the books which it’s based on are so popular. I haven’t read them, but I found the film to be devoid of any real storytelling and the characters completely uninteresting. In fact, I think the film is downright offensive.
Fifty Shades of Grey sprang from fan fiction based on the Twilight series. Basically Fifty Shades imagines a domineering/subservient relationship between Edward and Bella and leaves out all of the supernatural vampire and werewolf stuff. It also leaves out the idea of people forming real relationships or actually caring about each other. At least that’s how it is in the movie. I also haven’t read the Twilight books, but I have seen most of the films, and while I don’t think they are groundbreaking in any way they are head and shoulders above Fifty Shades in creativity. At the very least they build real conflict and establishing the all the vampire and werewolf rules took some real thought.
In Fifty Shades we have Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who develop an infatuation with each after a chance meeting. The problem is Christian is incapable of forming real relationships and only wants Anastasia as his “submissive,” meaning she has to submit to any sexual act he demands. After haggling out some details, she agrees to sign the contract he offers her, and basically becomes a paid sex toy. This includes accepting punishments like being whipped if Christian deems it necessary. Of course she’s not happy. Who would be?
This story is billed as an “erotic romance,” but I fail to see any romance in it. Romance implies a reciprocal relationship, not one based on one person totally controlling another. Christian at one point is enraged that Anastasia decides to visit her mother without checking with him first. Christian’s behavior is abusive, but it’s played as though he is just misunderstood and just needs to find the right relationship.
The only saving grace in this film is Dakota Johnson. She brings some likeability to Anastasia, though her earnest performance makes it even harder to fathom why Anastasia makes the decisions she does. Christian Grey is pretty much a non-character. There isn’t anything interesting or likeable about him. It’s almost as if Anastasia’s infatuation with him stems only from the idea that a guy like him wouldn’t usually look her way. But really, why would she want him to?
I could hardly recommend this film less. Even as a curiosity it doesn’t stand up. Almost nothing happens throughout the whole thing. If you’re thinking there might some good sex scenes, you’ll probably be disappointed there too.
The Blu-ray features an “unrated cut” with an alternate ending. I didn’t see the theatrical version, so I’m unsure of the differences. There’s also nearly an hour of featurettes that include a making of and a discussion of real BDSM culture via cast and crew interviews. Book author E.L. James also discusses Fifty Shades in a short featurette. Also includes is a virtual tour of Christian’s apartment and a couple of music videos.
The Blu-ray presents a decent package for fans of the film, who will likely want to see the alternate ending. However, for the simply curious I say pass on this one.
Fifty Shades of Grey images: Universal