Synopsis: Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.
Release Date: February 13, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Romance, Drama
The novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James has sold 60 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages. What started as internet fan fiction based on the “Twilight” books has blown up into an international phenomenon. Of course, with buzz like that, Hollywood was bound to come calling, and Fifty Shades of Grey is now a major motion picture.
Fifty Shades of Grey is about a young college student named Anastasia Steele (The Social Network‘s Dakota Johnson) who is sent to interview a successful billionaire benefactor of her college named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan from “The Fall”). Christian picks on her during the interview and makes her feel uncomfortable, but still ends up cooperating.
Ana finds herself attracted to the charming young man and is thrilled when he seems to reciprocate. There’s just one catch: Christian Grey does not want a girlfriend, he wants a “submissive,” someone whom he can dominate, someone he can reward when they are good and punish when they are bad. Slowly, Ana gives in to his weird requests, but as she finds her feelings for Christian intensifying, the games move out of the bedroom and into their public lives.
Nothing that can be written about Fifty Shades of Grey really matters, as the people who want to see it are going to see it regardless of what any review says about it. Moreover, fans of the book will probably love it. Truth be told, it’s a pretty well-put-together film. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) squeezes a fairly watchable movie out of what she had to work with; the movie looks great, and the performances are better than average despite the obvious lack of sexual chemistry between the leads.
The biggest problem with the film is the script. It’s corny. The screen adaptation was written by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks), and it’s full of improbable scenarios and cringe-worthy dialogue. One can hardly blame Ms. Marcel, however; she seems to have done her best with a story whose main characters are named Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. But, in the end, Fifty Shades of Grey is just a big budget movie with no foundation: all spectacle and no substance.
Fifty Shades of Grey is either brilliant or stupid, but it’s hard to determine which. If Taylor-Johnson was trying to make a serious movie, it’s a failure. If she was going for camp, purposely making a movie to be shown at midnight on Saturdays for years to come like Showgirls or The Room, then mission accomplished. No matter what the intention was, the film will end up as the latter. Fifty Shades of Grey will have a long life as a cult favorite, just not for all the right reasons.
Score and Soundtrack
Legitimately, the strongest element in Fifty Shades of Grey is the music. The soundtrack is a nice mixture of the classic and the modern, showing a good representation of both old and new music. The film begins with a pretty cool Annie Lennox cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.”
There’s also a surprisingly faithful rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Iâm on Fire” that is played later in the film, courtesy of AWOLNATION. On the non-cover song front, the film includes songs from dinosaurs like The Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra right alongside tunes by youngster bands with names like The Weeknd and Vaults. There are even two, count’em, two songs by the Queen herself, Beyonce. There’s nothing completely obvious, but every tune is tasteful. The soundtrack to Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t trying to sell a million copies of its record, but it probably will all the same.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Sam Taylor-Johnson
- Screenwriter(s): Kelly Marcel
- Cast: Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey), Jennifer Ehle (Carla), Eloise Mumford (Kate), Victor Rasuk (Jose), Rita Ora (Mia Grey), Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Grey)
- Editor(s): Lisa Gunning
- Cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey
- Music Score: Danny Elfman
- Country Of Origin: USA