Fifty Shades of Grey

Early in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) reminds us that she’s about to graduate college with a 4.0 GPA, but she’s also incredibly naive. She’s never had a boyfriend, she lacks confidence in her looks, and she’s a total klutz, which we know because she trips exactly once in the film. Johnson handles the cipher of a role—one of her major character traits is that she bites her lip a lot—with surprising ease. The movie doesn’t waste much time introducing her to Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, the Irish actor who is so good in The Fall but desperately struggling with an American accent here) and his so-called “red room of pain,” where he carries out his S&M fantasies. They’re an attractive couple, and it’s nice to watch attractive people take their clothes off, but the actors lack the kind of spontaneous chemistry that could’ve turned Fifty Shades of Grey into something greater than the book it’s adapted from. You have no trouble believing they’re sexually attracted to each other, but the kind of attraction the book calls for—the once-in-a-lifetime gravity—just isn’t there. You won’t find many people willing to argue that Fifty Shades of Grey is a good movie. Many would argue it’s not even a successful sexy movie. But you can’t argue with someone’s state of arousal; if you’re turned on by Fifty Shades of Grey, it worked for you. For many, it will be the cinematic equivalent of eating a whole pint of ice cream by yourself. There are spots in the middle that will make you want to turn back, and by the time you reach the end, you might regret digging into it in the first place. But you probably had a little bit of fun along the way, didn’t you? by Paul Constant
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Sam Taylor-Johnson
Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle