Movies In Focus

Blu-ray Review: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – Kinky Twilight Fan-Fiction For Middle-Aged Women

fifty-shades-of-grey-review

E.L. James was a middle-aged woman who was a huge fan of the the Stephanie Meyer’s young-adult Twilight novels. She did what any self respecting middle-aged woman would do … and cranked out some online fan fiction, upping the sex quota and adding an extra bit of kink. She then repurposed the story into Fifty Shades Of Grey, changing the character names but keeping the bondage theme. The book became an international bestseller, stimulating the imagination of females globally.

The screen rights were snapped up by Universal Pictures but instead of cranking-out a cheap erotic drama as a quick cash grab, the studio stacked the film with first rate behind-the-scenes talent. Acclaimed director Sam Taylor-Johnson helmed the production; award-winning screenwriter Kelly Marcel adapted James’ tome; the film was produced by The Social Network’s Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca; cinematographer Seamus McGarvey photographed the film; and it was scored by Danny Elfman. Even the editors were first rate – with 89 year old Anne V.Coates having cut David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia.

The film’s casting was a hot topic, with many trying to turn the casting of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele into the greatest search for actors since Gone With The Wind. It wasn’t of course, but it got enough mileage in the press and Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson eventually secured the roles of James’ romantic leads.

Fifty Shades Of Grey is a stunningly created affair – it’s such a shame that the source material is what lets the film down. Everything that’s wrong with the film stems from E.L. James’ writing. She scored a sweet and powerful contract which meant that she had final say in what made it to the screen. Everyone tries to heighten the material but this is a narrative without a plot. It feels like a first act waiting for the story to kick-in (it’s the start of a trilogy) and therefore nothing really happens. Sure, Christian Grey has ‘particular tastes’ as interesting as fellow Irishman Liam Neeson’s ‘particular skills’ but this tale plays out for what it really is – a female fantasy.

Christian Grey is rich, successful and generous. He’s also a very boring character. Dornan tries his best but his character is zapped of anything interesting. He’s one dimensional, a 21st Century Mr Darcy created by a heavy-handed writer for the Sex and the City generation. Johnson also attempts to elevate the material, but again she’s stuck with a role so thin that she can’t bring life to a character that only exists to show how great Christian Grey is.

Fifty Shades Of Grey is well made and a lot of time has gone into creating the world of E.L James’ novel. The main problem is that the source material is so poor and James had so much say that it hampers the movie at every turn. You can’t blame Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson for taking on these roles. This is what careers are made of – but you can almost see their embarrassment in their eyes. Fifty Shades Of Grey isn’t as bad as it could have been – but it’s not worth the time and energy of all the great talent involved.

Special Features

Everything that a fan of Fifty Shades Of Grey would want. This comes with an extended version of the film that runs a few minutes longer than the theatrical version. You also get character profiles, behind the scenes material, interviews and an in-depth look at Christian Grey’s apartment. If you love the movie then I’m sure you’ll be enthralled by the extras. – and the teaser for the forthcoming sequel.

 

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