Adapted from the novel that made bored housewives across the world dream of being tortured by the most boring man in the world, “Fifty Shades of Grey” lives up to its reputation. It’s cheap, misogynist, Z grade exploitation masquerading as the romance of a woman trying to tame the ultimate man, who by all accounts should be alone left to his own demented fantasies. It began its life as fan fiction and reads like the cheap fantasies of a bored sexually repressed woman. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is about boring people doing stupid things to one another, and cardboard characters trying to create some sense of tension and conflict that never amounts to anything interesting. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the film that essentially romanticizes abuse and misogyny as something that’s admirable in a man and can potentially be snuffed out with the right woman by his side.
This is the kind of sensationalism that makes the film painful to endure. Anastasia is the quintessential moron who stares lovingly at Christian Grey, loves being bullied and objectified by him, and giggles when he snubs her and treats her like garbage. When she discovers he’s a sadomasochist, she is intent on building a relationship with him, because he’s just so misunderstood, good golly. Christian Grey is boring and relatively one dimensional but manages to attract so many women around him it’s inexplicable. Christian is a man who seeks no love or affection, and deserves none mainly because he’s so stale. There’s no real reason why Anastasia should be so in to him, especially when he lacks any kind of appeal. He’s not dashing, or funny, and the intent to make him enigmatic instead comes off as boring.
Anastasia seeks the romance of her life, and gets involved with someone maniacal who begins to treat her as an object that she laughs off with somewhat demented glee. The dialogue exchanged between both characters is awful. Dakota Johnson is terrible in the role, but what do you expect with a character like Anastasia? She’s simple, bumbling, and often comes off as someone who almost begs to be involved in a relationship with someone violent and abusive. Jamie Dornan is also painfully wooden, playing Christian as less a charismatic masochist with a fetish, and more like a cardboard cut out who delights in torturing women. Their performances often jump back and forth from laughable to cringe inducing. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson doesn’t even treat the material as camp, or tongue in cheek, so Ana’s engaging in this relationship is irritating and often times absurd.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” can’t muster up any life to be even remotely erotic at any juncture, as both cast members fail to deliver any iota of sexual or romantic chemistry. They have nothing to work with, so they basically stumble around going through the motions and collecting a paycheck. For a film that demonstrates a fractured romance built around the sadomasochistic relationship, I suggest “Secretary.” It’s slick, tongue in cheek, and actually possesses two cast members that can deliver life like performances as well as romantic chemistry. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is supermarket dime fiction for an audience that still convinces themselves they can change their partner, if they just hold out long enough. No matter how he or she treats them. It’s nonsense, and should be treated as such.