‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ the film could have been so 50 shades of ‘f**ed up’, just like Christian Grey, as he describes himself in the film. Thank the Lord — it’s actually fun, flirty and fantastically entertaining.
Fifty Shades of Grey stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and director Sam Taylor-Johnson deserve giant high fives for producing a romantic onscreen love story that’s ridiculously engrossing and not just ridiculous. E.L. James‘ infamous books are so over-the-top silly, even if they are addictive, that it sure seemed like they’d be impossible to film.
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How could Fifty Shades the film NOT be cheesy and OMG, how could Sam Taylor-Johnson possibly film the numerous never-ending sex scenes? After all, aren’t the books all about the “pleasures” and punishment of S&M sex? There was so much potential for the ew-gross factor to hit the screen, let alone for 50 Shades the film to have audiences laughing in all the wrong places.
Thankfully, Fifty Shades isn’t icky and it’s actually surprisingly funny, but only when it’s supposed to be.
The film is better than the books in so many ways, mainly because the Ana/Christian relationship comes off as “real” onscreen, whereas it seemed like such a Cinderella fantasy on the written page.
Filmed in grey, rainy Seattle and Portland with an everyday normalness, Fifty Shades feels charming from beginning to end. Dakota Johnson, 25, is the right amount of gawky bookworm girl and Christian has far more humor and warmth than he ever did in the novels.
‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ The Film Is Better Than The Novel
Dakota must have been cast because of her soft, full lips, which happily don’t look like they have the least amount of filler. She’s fresh-faced pretty underneath her big brow bangs, but like Kristen Stewart, 24, in Twilight, she’s not intimidatingly beautiful. That would be so annoying.
And also, thankfully Jamie Dornan is far more fun as hunk tech billionaire/S&M dominant than the brooding Christian Grey in the books.
In photos, Jamie, 32, was worrisome. He looked too coldly perfect to be sensuous Christian. But onscreen, he’s so much looser and sexier than you’d expect.
The first Ana/Christian encounter when they meet in his office for an interview for Ana’s college newspaper is perfection and sets up the winningness of the whole film. Ana is engagingly awkward but smart and intuitive and her outfit is appropriately awful. Christian is drop-dead, dressed impeccably in his cool-rich-guy suit and he’s having such a great time watching Ana blow her interview.
Their relationship takes off from there, and the best thing about it is Ana’s intelligence. Christian may think he has found his perfectly vulnerable submissive. But he doesn’t reckon on Ana’s sardonic smarts.
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She CAN’T BELIEVE he wants to do THAT to her, let alone THAT to anyone.
The film really highlights Anna’s intelligent tango with Christian in a way that gets buried in the books, which spend endless pages describing their sexual encounters. There’s still plenty of that including nudity, in the film, but it’s not nearly as graphic as in the novels– so glad.
What’s far more interesting is the focus on Ana and Christian’s complicated flirtation and flourishing romance, against long odds. Christian after all doesn’t “do” romance, hearts and flowers etc. Yet somehow Ana seduces him into it and before very long he’s calling her his “girlfriend” and bringing her to family dinners.
When the film ends abruptly after Christian crosses the creepy line, everyone in the audience let out a groan.
But a groan as in “oh no”, we have to wait for the sequel now. That’s going to seem like a very long time. Can’t wait.
So, HollywoodLifers — are you going to go to Fifty Shades of Grey? Let me know.
— Bonnie Fuller
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