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Fifty Shades Of Grey

February 19, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (**) R

I’ll just get to the point right off the bat. In spite of the hype, or anything else you might have heard, the big screen adaptation of book number one in E.L. James’ bestselling trilogy is a much more tepid affair than one might have expected. The steamy sex scenes that readers of that series of books are surely expecting turn out to be more of the vanilla variety than something we might have seen in a mainstream theatrical release—think 9/12 weeks—even some thirty years ago. It probably has something to do with lead actor Jamie Dornan’s contract clause forbidding his full frontal nudity, although that’s nothing new. In mainstream American films it’s always been fine for women to, at the very least, bare their breasts while their male counterparts get away with having to do little to nothing along those lines and Fifty Shades is no exception. If you’re thinking this film is going to break ground insofar as loosening up puritanical American attitudes towards sex onscreen then think again.

What we are left with are some decent production values and a storyline that doesn’t surprise but gives the audience enough of a tease to keep it from losing interest in the film during its 125 minute unspooling.

Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan

It’s nothing earth shattering in terms of its storytelling and, unfortunately, isn’t bad enough to place it in the same vein as something akin to the 1995 cult classic Showgirls, but not good enough to recommend either.

In case you are one of the few who are uninitiated into the world of Fifty Shades, I’ll share just enough of the film’s basic premise to give you an idea of what you’re up against. Christian Grey (Dorman) is a billionaire extraordinaire who chances to be interviewed by mousy college student, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). He’s oddly transfixed by her and vice versa. She’s a virgin and he’s a control freak who doesn’t like to be touched. In a plot point that has already made feminists hot under the collar, Christian offers Anastasia a contract that will allow him to physically do with Ana as he wishes while she gets a reward from the businessman each time she concedes. You get the point.

The central problem at the heart of the film is why these two would want to be together to begin with. You would think that Christian, with all of his money and power, would want something a little more experienced and sexually adventurous than a virgin, while Ana should have enough respect for herself than to stoop to the level of a what amounts to a legalized type of prostitution. I guess they deserve each other but never mind. Nothing I can say is going to detract the curious from seeing the cultural phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey. When going, just don’t expect too much. You have been warned.

Fifty Shades of Grey is playing everywhere.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at



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