18 February 2015 | Michael_Elliott
Erotic? Not At All. Laughable? Oh Yeah.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
** (out of 4)
Rather silly adaptation of the E.L. James best-seller about a shy, timid virgin (Dakota Johnson) who meets the elusive billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Doman) and soon both of their lives change.
Writing a plot synopsis of this thing is pretty pointless since I'm sure the target audience is already going to know the story. I guess this is where I should admit that I haven't read the book so this review won't be comparing the two or complaining about what the movie did or didn't do from the book. No, this review is just going to be based around the actual movie and for the life of me I can't see what all the hype is about. I don't expect everyone laying their money down to be some sort of film buff but the "shocking" material on display here has been going on in European movies for four-plus decades so why it's just now reaching American shores is pretty funny in itself but that's off subject I guess.
As for the film, there are all sorts of major issues with it but we can start with the laughable screenplay, which would have been rejected by the Lifetime channel and in fact, I'm going to guess that it would have been rejected has a five-year-old written it. The dialogue is without question some of the most laughable I've heard in a very long time. In fact, the movie seems to be lost in what decade it is because there are times that the "F" word is used and it's used in a way to where it's supposed to be shocking. Really? It's going to take more than that. The entire character development between the two lead characters is another joke and after a while you really can't buy into any of the melodrama and you've just got to sit back and laugh.
The performances are another problem but then again, even the likes of Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor couldn't work with horrid material so I'm not going to be too harsh on Johnson and Doman. With that said, the lackluster direction by Sam Taylor-Johnson doesn't help either as there are many times where another take should have happened. The scenes with Johnson playing the shy girl just aren't very believable because the actress can't sell it. The scenes of her explaining she's a virgin are laughably bad. Doman really doesn't get much to work with and especially since he can't crack a smile and has to give off dumb, overly-serious facial expressions throughout. I will say that the actors have a nice chemistry together but that's about it. The supporting players are all equally forgettable.
Yet another problem is that the film just isn't erotic. FATAL ATTRACTION, BASIC INSTINCT and even something as silly as BODY OF EVIDENCE are just a few recent films that packed a lot more punch than this one. I mean, is sticking an eraser around your lips really erotic anymore? A lot of the lack of erotic-ness has to be blamed on the director who just seems to have been the wrong fit for the material. Nothing from the erotic nature to the serious stuff works and everything is poorly edited.
So, why the two-stars for all the negative stuff? As bad as the film is, thankfully it reaches the level to where you can't help but laugh and be mildly entertained as to what's going to happen next. Again, I haven't read the book so I don't know which one is better but the film is pretty flat from start to finish.