When I was asked to watch this movie, I expected a bad movie. My expectations were fulfilled in every way possible. The movie was full of bad dialogue, bad acting, cliched scenes, expositions, laughable situations. To make matter worse, those expecting raunchy and explicit sex scenes would be greatly disappointed.
Though I have never read the book (which is supposedly bad as well), I pretty much was familiar with the story. Good Girl Anastasia Steele meets Bad Boy Christian Grey. Dakota Johnson, whose acting range seems to center more on lip-biting, pencil-licking, and squirming in bed, is passable as a fumbling college student, a virgin who eventually becomes “enlightened” into the world of sex. Jamie Dornan, however, is plain silly and boring as a perenially scowling billionaire obsessed on getting Anastasia to sign some sex contract. I imagined the Grey character as somebody aloof and intimidating, his aura looming large and overpowering, but instead he came across as some desparate, stalking loser who constantly chased Steele’s attention. And his lines were horrible, chock-full of exposition – “I don’t do romance” and “I won’t sleep with you.” Was the screenwriter (Kelly Marcel, whose resume consists mostly of TV series scripts) plain lazy or was the director, Nowhere Boy‘s Sam Taylor-Johnson, contractually shackled to follow the book? There is no sense why Anastasia is drawn to Christian nor why he is so smitten with her. The role reversal was so obvious from the start that I felt like I was watching paint dry.
And the sex scenes? It was downright ridiculous. Before the title credits were rolled, a disclaimer notice was flashed. Despite the R-18, body parts would be blurred and blacked out, a decision made by the film’s distributors and not the censors. I call bullshit. I know that censors don’t really dictate what scenes to cut. They simply assign ratings, and they “suggest” what scenes to cut so as to get a decent film rating. I suppose there was the threat of an X-rating, which would have prohibited the film from being shown. As a result, genitalia and scenes where hips were conjoined were blacked out. There were parts where almost one-third of the screen was masked. In this age of Internet porn, why must we blur sex scenes that are softer than soft-porn in an adult-rated film?
But even if we watched the scenes in all its glory, it still lacks any style or eroticism. Dornan and Johnson lack any chemistry. And the “House of Pain?” Nothing controversial. There is no tension, no sense of taboo or danger. Dornan’s Grey character is so sentimental that you know that he wouldn’t put Steele in any danger. The final “whipping” scene is so flaccid that I guess she gave up on him for being so needy and boring.