Film Reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey Reveal Harmful Messages
“Fifty Shades” not only destigmatizes kink, bringing bondage and spanking to airport bookstores and reading groups across the land. But it also, so to speak, de-sophisticates certain sexual practices, taking them out of the chateau and the boudoir and other fancy French places and planting them in the soil of Anglo-American banality.
The movie is neither one of those things. It dabbles in romantic comedy and splashes around in melodrama, but the one thing it can’t be — the thing the novel so trashily and triumphantly is — is pornography.
2 stars (out of 4)
Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy asks girl to be his sexual submissive. That kinky love story sparked a best-selling phenomenon — but its adaptation is a limp bore.
Dornan and Johnson’s lack of passion is criminal, to the point where their screen test must be sent to the labs and dusted for fingerprints.
Johnson spends half the film topless, while Dornan only drops trou a few times.
Fifty Shades is billed as a romance, but is instead the opening chapter of an emotionally abusive relationship (not unlike the Twilight saga on which it was based). The film suggests that all Christian needs is a good woman, when he could actually stand to hire a brilliant therapist, and take some time away from work to deal with his issues. Listen, the bondage lifestyle is a perfectly acceptable one for consenting, knowledgeable adults. But Ana is, for the most part, neither of those things. She’s a vapid, sweet virgin looking for love. He mainly just looks confused as to why she won’t let him beat her like a circus elephant.
The difference between “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” enigmatic heartthrob Christian Grey and Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who imprisoned and sexually abused three women in his home, is a slick gray suit and a few million dollars.
The only reason Christian Grey has become a recent icon in popular fiction – albeit a trashy one – is because he is filthy rich. Being a wealthy, debonair playboy has overshadowed being a manipulating sexual predator and has inexplicably made a seemingly quiet, sexually repressed audience swoon.
Though Anastasia does submit to Christian’s predatory actions, they aren’t exactly what she wants. She wants a “normal” relationship – one where she can go to dinner, a movie and then have a pleasant post-coital snuggle. Christian refuses to give her that, denying her everything she wants in a relationship. Furthermore, he is domineering in the most frightening way; Anastasia may have the freedom to leave Christian’s sex chamber and return home at any time, but she is far from a free woman.
In the end, “Fifty Shades” says absolutely nothing. The result is a boring, drawn out call to a sex dungeon that takes an indeterminable amount of time to arrive. The film is often degrading for confusing psychological imprisonment for a relationship. The fine line between abuse and pleasure in “Fifty Shades” is so thin it’s almost non-existent. Here is a Valentine’s Day movie that will certainly make bank at the box office, but you aren’t helping yourself or anyone else by seeing it.
Bland and dull, except for the rare moments when it is unintentionally hilarious, all Fifty Shades has to teach the curious is that it doesn’t matter how many shades of grey you use, you will just end up with a drab, colorless blob.
What’s worse than the boring sex scenes, however, is the rest of the boring movie.
Maybe in future installments there will even be something that resembles a plot. For now, the entire movie is about as sexy as a root canal.
Despite the endless sex, a highly unsatisfying encounter. Cold as a fish and almost as dumb.
Sitting through the turgid and tedious S&M melodrama that is Fifty Shades of Grey may feel like its own form of torture.