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Published February 14th 2015
50 Shades of Grey's on screen adaption falls short
Let me start by saying I've never read the 50 Shades of Grey series, nor do I ever intend to read it. It's obvious this movie franchise (since two follow-up movies are already in production) isn't marketed to a 23 year old male, but once the credits rolled I found myself unable to understand who this series it directed towards, let alone why it was allowed to exist.
50 Shades of Grey follows the story of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a 21 year old University student majoring in English literature, who is asked to interview a 27 year old wealthy entrepreneur named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Ana is the typical quiet girl, one who hasn't had much luck with the opposite sex; well at least those she's been interested in. Christian on the other hand is an obnoxious individual who seems to believe he can read everyone, own everyone and get whatever he may desire.
I speak of just these two characters as every other character in 50 Shades of Grey is merely there as a plot device and never explored, making the entire ensemble cast forgettable. Of course that makes sense when the "relationship" between the two lead characters is the entire main focus all the entire 125 minute runtime.
Their relationship is far from normal however, as Christian seeks a submissive mistress to satisfy his dominant sexual needs – which is where Ana comes into play, in more ways than one. With such a focus on their relationship throughout the film, their connection was always going to make or break the film, and I simply never understood the desire either character felt for one another.
Christian is portrayed as a heartless individual whose company only provides for the poor due to it being "good for business", he also shuts down Ana's advances to have a normal relationship throughout the film. Now I understand the book has these characters form a strong bond, but I found the relationship didn't make sense. Telling a woman that you don't date, sleep in the same bed as them, or simply allow any affection at all, doesn't make a woman fall head over heels in love with you – yet it does here. Ana is infatuated from the first she lays eyes on Mr. Grey. With the camera emphasising these emotions by constantly showcasing Ana's obsession with lip and pencil biting, despite the fact that pencil clearly wasn't hers – that's a definite faux pas.
Throughout the film we are introduced to Christian's habits alongside Ana, hearing the crazy details of a contract Ana is meant to sign in order for their sexual relationship to begin. As I said previously, this relationship makes or breaks the film, simply due to the fact that's all this film is. Yet their relationship is unbelievable, cringe inducing and downright preposterous. Aside from buying Ana's love with extravagant gifts, I couldn't understand why a shy young lady like Ana would become obsessed with the first handsome man to showcase an interest in her, let alone one with such provocative sexual interests.
I never found myself caring for either individual. Ana is portrayed as an obsessed teenager with an obsessed crush, one whose life is affected by it at every waking moment. While Christian is portrayed as an empowered stalker, who at one point actually breaks into her home in order to get the answer to his initial contract. I found it extremely difficult to see how either character found the other to be their sexual achilles heel. But even then by the films end, it's hard to feel emotions towards either character, despite the film trying constantly to make me care about their emotional wellbeing.
Johnson and Dornan both produce serviceable performances with the cringe worthy dialogue on display. In fact both performers have to be commended for providing lines like, "Laters babe" or "I want to **** you into next week" or "Roll your eyes again and I'll have to put you over my knee". This is just a small sample of the absurd dialogue that is given to both performers. Despite having a small knowledge of the dialogue that would be on display throughout the film, seeing it in action is as uncomfortable to watch as it is to see two adults perform.
Where 50 Shades of Grey does succeed is with the excellent soundtrack and cinematography decisions. The soundtrack itself includes big name artists like Beyoncé and Ellie Goulding, providing a jazz-like tone to most of the film. The soundtrack is also heightened due to the excellent cinematography that is showcased in the few scenes outside of the bedroom, both of which include extended flight sequences. During these few moments, the swirling sound and the beautiful camera angles made me genuinely appreciate the infusion of sight and sound on display.
50 Shades of Grey is an uncomfortable film to watch, not just for the graphic scenes that may make the average audience member squeamish, but due to the frustrating characters and poor excuse for emotional turmoil. When a film decides to portray a relationship as its main selling point it must be strong and make the audience invest. 50 Shades of Grey not only made me not want to invest in either character, but once the credits rolled I had me wishing I had never seen their relationship to begin with.
What do I get?" "You get me." Well Mr. Grey and Miss. Steele, I'd rather have neither of you.