Sam Taylor-Johnson’s 50 Shades of Grey, based on E. L. James’ novel, fails to transcend the poor source material and titillate while exploring the topic of BDSM. The movie opens to stunning wide-sweeping shots of Seattle set to Annie Lennox’s “I Put A Spell On You,” which instantly sets the tone and mood of the story familiar to everyone who engages in American pop culture. Anastasia Steele’s (Dakota Johnson) roommate has the flu, so she sends Ana to fill in for her in an interview with billionaire business tycoon Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). And then he takes a liking to her, asserting control over her life and later showing her his “play room.”
The next glaring issue: the sex. There was not enough of it! At least the whole 20 minutes of sex certainly didn’t feel like enough for the book that is supposedly the steamiest thing that happened to 2012. And you would think, that since there is so little sex happening, that there would be enough room for interesting subplots and storylines to take place. Well, you would be wrong. Moreover, the sex scenes were so tepid! Maybe I’m ruined from having watched Kink (2013), but this is freakin’ BDSM people! It should make the viewer at least a little uncomfortable! It should be a little rough! They just weren’t bold, in content or shooting style/choices. The movie failed to deliver the literal single thing it should’ve delivered on.
I felt nothing. Zero of the things. I wasn’t turned on. I wasn’t swept up in Ana’s supposed fantasy. I tried, but the movie didn’t paint the fantasy effectively or much at all. I didn’t really feel Grey’s power, passion, sexiness, control, or dominance. I didn’t feel Ana’s ambivalence, curiosity, infatuation, submissiveness, or intrigue. This wasn’t the actors’ faults (they did pretty well with what they were given, which wasn’t much, in terms of dialogue or development of content for the potentially interesting characters); rather, it was the fault of the filmmakers, editors, and writers. This was really such a missed opportunity.