Cary, NC — Fifty Shades of Grey is the adaptation of the wildly popular, and somewhat controversial, book of the same name. Despite its risqué source material, the movie avoids being neither trashy fun nor an interesting examination of adult themes. Instead, Fifty Shades of Grey turns out to be completely middle of the road, safe, and, worst of all, boring.
A Lot Going for It
It’s a real shame too, because it honestly seems like everyone involved really wanted to make a good movie. The director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, previously directed the little-seen Nowhere Boy, a thoughtful movie about the early days of John Lennon.
The film’s screenwriter was responsible for Saving Mr. Banks, the entertaining and surprisingly emotional true story of how Walt Disney convinced P.L. Travers to make Mary Poppins into a movie. So this film actually had a lot going for it.
Could Have Been Fun, But…
Even worse is that, for the first 30-45 minutes, Fifty Shades of Grey threatens to become fun. Sure, some of the dialogue is truly awful, but the movie and actors seem to be completely aware of this, which is great. But then the movie begins to take itself very, very seriously.
Again, that could have been interesting as well, had it followed through with it, but nothing ends up happening in the movie. That’s not a spoiler either, it’s just that nothing happens. The two characters never really get to know each other, and there are no actual reveals from either of them. Perhaps that comes in the sequels?
The two leads do what they can with what they are given. Dakota Johnson (daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) fares a bit better of the two, handling the corny dialogue with charm and innocence. Jamie Dornan certainly looks the part, but he never quite captures the mystique the role requires.
To be fair, though, I think the source material is at fault more than Dornan himself, so I’m not ready to write him off as an actor just yet (I’ve heard he is excellent in the Netflix series The Fall).
Fifty Shades…Not Worth the Controversy
In the end, there just isn’t much to say about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s nowhere near as scandalous as the controversy would have you believe. It’s nowhere near as sexy as it wants to be. And it’s nowhere near the train wreck that some hoped it would be. What we’re left with is an okay, mostly boring movie that never capitalizes on its potential.
If there is a sequel, and it seems pretty certain that will happen, I hope they keep the talented filmmakers they hired. It’s clear they wanted to make this film good, and I think they have the means. But, for now, I say skip Fifty Shades of Grey. If your curiosity must be satiated, at least save your money and wait for video.
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