Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015)

 

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The adaptation of E. L. James’ trashy bestselling novel Fifty Shades Of Grey spruces up the hokum sufficiently, reaping appeal from its two stars and benefitting from subtle execution. Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), a timid English literature student, crosses paths with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a closed-off businessman, who takes an immediate liking to her. But their subsequent relationship is muddled by Christian’s singular tastes. Decidedly less cringe inducing and explicit than its source material (the sexual content is notably subdued, less hardcore more soft core), the film rests on a level of deliberate self-awareness that marks it as a vast improvement. The narrative, as fundamentally hackneyed as it is, benefits from screenwriter Kelly Marcel’s touch. Its romantic body has been strengthened and fatuous add-ons, such as Ana’s immature inner musings, ousted, making it tighter and more focused on the verbal and emotional power play. As a result, the characters aren’t the paper-thin caricatures they are in the novel, which in turn supplies the leads with more to work with, in particular Johnson, who nails Ana’s mix of vulnerability and steeliness. The artful direction is an asset as well, ensuring that, even during the more ridiculous moments (of which there are many), Fifty Shades Of Grey is an appealing watch – a minor miracle in itself considering its founding as Twilight fan fiction.

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